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Race Preparation
Fail to prepare - prepare to fail!


Unless you are training just to keep fit and healthy, you are training to race - which seems pretty logical.  But what is not logical is that after putting in all your hard training you jeopardise your race performance with poor race preparation.  Check out the following, and see if any bells ring!

Do you ease back enough in your training for a race?

If you are racing on a Saturday are you still doing a tough session on Thursday?  Try to ease the intensity and duration of any running after Wednesday.  Most juniors benefit from a rest day the day before a race, and depending on age and experience, should be doing an easy to steady run on the last training day.

If you are looking at a major championship race then a gradual taper all week can sometimes help race performance but this does depend on what training has gone before and how you have performed previously to such tapering.

Do you take into account the level of exercise or games that you play at school - plus your training - in your run up to an important race?

For those with paper rounds - do you still run them on race day?

If you have raced the previous weekend do you take that into account with the following weekís training, especially if it was a tough race?

Do you get to the race venue in good time for a reconnoitre of the course?

If itís an early race start do you get up early enough to eat breakfast at least three hours before the race?  When you do have a meal is it the right kind of food or are you eating food that is hard to digest?

Do you keep hydrated on the way to the race - by having a drinking bottle in the car with you?

Do you take enough clothing and shoes to accommodate any and all race and weather conditions?  Try not to race in new shoes or clothing that has not been worn before.  It is handy to walk the course in an old pair of studs and keep your racing pair dry.

If you know the course, it is not necessary to walk all of it, especially if it is very hilly - just walking a tough hilly course can sometimes take the edge off your performance.

If you do not know the course and arrive late, reconnoitre the back section of the race route as a priority.

When you register do you check to see if there are any late race instructions or route changes from previous years?

Do you have a set routine and warm up procedure?  Or do you just do a twirl of the arms and lean against the nearest tree for a quick stretch?

Keep warm and find a nice quiet area for your pre-race stretch routine.  Make sure that you have raised your body temperature sufficiently with easy running first and then some quicker short strides close to race start.

Most junior races are of necessity short and usually very fast early on.  You must acclimatise your body to what you will experience in the first 800m.

Do not over-stretch before a race, but use this time of relaxation - when stretching - to think about the race and plan your tactics.  Think about the course and where you feel you can do well.

Realistically plan your tactics with several options - depending on how the race develops.  Sectionalise the course in your mind - and congratulate yourself in the race, as you run through each section.

If you are a particularly good descender then use this ability to your advantage, be positive, and go for it.

Try hard not to become too dispirited if you get stitch or are passed by another runner.  All athletes at some time go through a bad patch in a race - donít imagine it is only you who are finding the going tough.

Try hard not to set off too fast, learn from previous races.  Although it is important to set off well and get a good position, be realistic in your judgment.

In Conclusion:
Do not feel to be under any pressure to do well in your racing by anyone other than yourself.  Unless you find your racing fun and exciting you will not stay in the sport long.  If you donít do as well as you wanted to, always remember there are many more races to come, and with the right race preparation and some good training behind you - who knows!  Enjoy your running.


Norman Matthews © 2001-2004
Head Senior Coach
Horwich RMI Harriers