Throughout your running life therell be races that youll look back on and think, What the hell happened there? Here are the answers to a few of those head-scratching scenarios:
I blew up
The end of the race is in sight, but you feel as if youre running through porridge and scything through the field backwards. Were you a little over-enthusiastic at the start? Without fail, every race has a group of runners who speed off when the gun goes and spend the rest of the race slowing down. Dont get caught up in their excitement. Unless youre running in the 100m, a controlled, relaxed start wont do any harm. In fact, as the rest of the field tires youll just keep picking up places.
You can also blow up if you havent trained properly. If your longest run has been eight miles, dont be surprised when the wheels fall off at the 15-mile point of a marathon, for instance. For shorter races, plan to run further than the race distance in training.
If you dont put enough petrol in your car, itll conk out before you get home. Your bodys the same, so fuel up see the other advice on these two pages about how to eat and drink properly before and during your race.
I finished feeling too good
This could be because youve taken the previous advice too far. If you started in a controlled, relaxed manner and then eased down for the rest of the race, then you still need to work on your pacing! If that isnt the case, dont worry. Feeling great and full of running at the end of a race is an all too rare occurrence, and theres a good chance that youre about to run some PBs.
My breathings fine, but my legs feel heavy
Check your training log. Even if youre running marathons, speedwork is vital. Not only will it make you faster, but over time itll reduce your production of lactic acid. Thats the stuff that flows through your muscles and causes those heavy legs.
Dont go overboard with speedwork, though, as overtraining can also contribute to race-day blues. If all of your sessions are eyeballs-out, then come race day, theres a good chance your legs will let you down just when you need them most. Make sure that you never follow a hard training day with another one, and pencil in some rest a day or two before the race is ideal.
Im just not getting any quicker
Improvements tend to happen quickly at first you can take huge chunks from PBs every few months but as you get fitter and quicker, the improvements become harder to achieve.
You cant keep setting big PBs, obviously, but do look for reasons for a slow-down. Maybe youre not doing enough speedwork. Perhaps youve been unable to train through illness, injury or a heavy workload. Or maybe youre racing too much, or getting bored by the same distances.
On a different level, theres nothing we can do about getting older, and few of us can expect to be running the same times in our 50s as we did in our 30s. But you can cheat the ageing process. Age-adjusted times allow the more mature runners among us to compare their most recent times with those achieved in their youth, or of younger rivals. Theyre a great way of keeping your competitive instincts burning.
Before the gun went, I just knew I was going to have a bad race
Its surprisingly easy to psych yourself out of a race before youve even started. Worrying about how youll feel at the halfway point, whether the guy in the fancy shoes will beat you, or if youve left the gas on, can all have a negative impact on your performance. But you can beat race-ruining nerves. Firstly, make sure youve done the training. If you know that youve done the hard work, you can be confident going into a race. Secondly, get race experience. The more races you enter, the more accustomed to racing youll become, and this will help calm your nerves and boost your confidence. Finally, create a pre-race routine it could be a set warm-up, or listening to a favourite album on your CD player. Doing the same thing before each race will help you relax, and know that youre fully prepared.