Most runners have at least one story about a race when they felt so great during the first few miles that they ran ahead of pace, only to crash and burn (a.k.a. bonking) during the final miles. This is especially common among those going for a goal time, because they make the mistake of thinking they can put “time in the bank”. The problem is that if you go out too fast, you’ll burn through your stored energy too quickly and your muscles will fatigue faster, leaving you feeling tired and depleted toward the end of your race. Here are some ways to avoid it:
- Deliberately run your first mile slower than you plan to run the final one. It’s tough to do, since you’ll most likely feel really strong in the beginning.
- Try to make sure you’re in the correct starting position. Don’t start yourself with faster runners because you’ll most likely try to keep up with them.
- Start your race at a comfortable pace and make sure you check your watch at the first mile marker. If you’re ahead of your anticipated pace, slow down. It’s not too late to make pace corrections after just one mile.
- Practice starting out slow during training runs. When you do your long run each week, try to hold back during the first few miles, so you get used to the discipline of not going out too fast.
Tips for Everyone (whether or not you’re racing it):
- Don’t skip any water station, but don’t try to get water from the first table. Watch for other runners, and for the water cups on the ground. Grab a cup and squeeze the cup at the top, so it’s pointed, like a V. Then put the pointed top of the cup in your mouth and drink the water. Take small sips — there’s no need to drink all of it in one gulp.
- You should have a gel or about 100 calories about an hour into the race, and every 40-45 minutes from there. Make sure you have your gel/food with water.
- Don’t sprint at the finish line (that’s how you get injured)!
- Have fun and enjoy it! We’re proud of you for just showing up!
Should I Run More Miles Before or After the Race?
If you’ve been keeping up with the schedule and you’re not behind, you don’t need to add more miles. This is a down week for most, so you’ll still be on track with the rest of the team. If you’re an intermediate or advanced runner, don’t stress about doing only 10 miles — you’re racing it, that’s hard on your body. You don’t need to add more miles.
If you’re a full marathoner and you haven’t yet hit 13-14 miles, I’d suggest adding on a few miles before or after the race. Try to get there early and run on the course beforehand, since it’s easier to run a little before rather than after you’ve crossed the finish line. There will be lots of people doing the same. Bag check area will be open early, so you can leave your bag there.