How to Deal With Pre-Race Doubts

Credit: Damien Strohmeyer/Allsport
Before any challenging event in life, most of us receive a lot of negative, left-brain messages. Just before and during a race, these messages can come fast and furiously.

You know them: "Slow down." "Why are you doing this?" "This isn't your day." Here are some ways to prepare yourself for this left-brain onslaught:

1. If possible, run, walk, or drive over the course at least once before your race. Try to develop strategies for each segment, such as, "This is where I'll conserve energy for the hills" or "Don't go too fast down this hill."

2. The last week before a big event, mentally rehearse the day of the race, from the time you get up to the ride home after it's over. This will prepare you for the challenge and keep you focused.

3. A must: Keep your blood sugar up before and during the race. This will provide you with usable carbohydrates, plus it will help fend off feelings of fatigue.

4. Go out at a slower pace than you plan to run the whole race. This will make the second half of the race far more pleasant, and chances are you'll run faster as well.

The longer the race, the more important it is to hold back in the beginning, when so many others are going out too fast. Here's a quick guide on pacing for various race distances:

  • 5K: Run the first mile five to 10 seconds slower than goal race pace.
  • 10K: Run the first two miles five to 10 seconds per mile slower than goal race pace.
  • Half-marathon: Run the first three to five miles 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than goal race pace.
  • Marathon: Run the first five to eight miles 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than goal race pace.

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