How to Critique Your Running Performance Each Year

Study Your Splits

Whether you met your time goal or not, analyzing your splits will help you assess your pacing strategy, says Holland. If your pace was consistent or got slightly faster in the second half of your run (a negative split), put pacing under your "Done Good" column. If you sped up substantially after the halfway point—running, say, one to two minutes faster in the second half of a 5K, or more than five minutes faster in a half-marathon—consider a more ambitious goal. 

More: 3 Ways for Advanced Runners to PR

Should your splits reveal a slowdown in the middle or later miles, you likely started too fast or lost focus. Next time, plan to run near a pace group targeting a finish time about 10 minutes slower than your target, stick with them for the first third of the race, then speed up, says Martin. Or break your run into thirds: Complete the first third comfortably (15 to 20 seconds slower than goal pace), the second at a hard but sustainable pace, and the final third at maximum effort. 
More: 3 Progression Runs to Reach Race-Day Success
To hone your race-day focus, practice tempo runs, says Cover. Beginners can alternate five minutes of comfortably hard running with two to three minutes' rest for 20 minutes; more advanced runners can run about 20 seconds slower than 5-K pace for 15 minutes, building up to three 20-minute tempo bouts in a single workout. (Add these 5 Moves That Make You Faster to your workout routine for a boost in speed and power.)
More: Tempo Running Tips to Boost Your Speed

What Went Wrong?

Easy solutions for common race problems

The problem Sluggish start
The solution Revise your warm-up. Do three to eight 100-meter strides and drills like high knees and skipping to prime your body for speed.
More: Your Guide to Warm-Ups
The problem Heavy legs
The solution Review your taper. Reduce mileage by 30 percent the week before a 5-K; by 50 percent 1.5 weeks before a half; by 30 percent two weeks before a marathon; and by 70 percent the week before a marathon

More: 5 Signs of Overtraining

The problem Rushed pre-race routine
The solution Compile a gear, food, and to-do checklist. Begin marking things off the day before—and get to the race earlier.

More: Race Weekend Preparation for Runners

The problem Gut distress
The solution Practice eating and drinking during training. Write everything down and make small changes to find what sits well.

More: 4 Tips to Avoid Stomach Cramps on a Run  

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