Get in a Good Starting Position1 of 6
If you're planning to run the race for fun, situate yourself in the back so you don't get in the way of the leaders. Conversely, if you're gunning for a fast time, inch your way as close to the front as you can. This is especially important for races that are crowded or aren't chip timed. For example, in a race without chip timing, your time officially begins when the gun goes off—even if it takes you 10 to 20 seconds to cross the starting line. Just a few seconds can make a big difference if you're trying to PR!
Start Slow, Finish Fast2 of 6
Even if you start near the front of the pack, it's important to pace yourself early. Try running five to 10 seconds slower per mile than your race pace for the first third of the race, ramp up to goal race pace for the middle third and then try to run five to 10 seconds per mile faster than race pace for the last portion. Many runners start to slow down in the last few miles; passing them will be a big confidence booster and will help you finish strong.
Run the Tangents3 of 6
Until a few years ago, I never thought much about my approach to the race course, but did you know running the "tangents" can shave seconds or even minutes off your race time? It's not cheating—it's how courses are officially measured! For example, on a curved road don't follow the yellow center line. Instead, run a straight route from the inside of one curve to the inside of the next curve to cover the shortest distance possible.
Use Hills and Corners to Your Advantage4 of 6
If you're running a competitive race, surging at the bottom and/or top of a hill can be a smart tactic. Many runners chug up a hill and then slow down once they reach the crest. If you overtake them at the top, you can use gravity on the downhill to your benefit. Likewise, runners often slow down when they round a corner. This is your chance to make your move! By turning your body slightly as you round the corner, you can also get a peek of who's behind you without being too conspicuous.
Run Through the Finish Line5 of 6
This might seem obvious, but maintain your pace for a few steps past the finish line. A lot of runners unconsciously slow down as they approach the time clock, which can add seconds to your time. And if you want a good finish photo, don't fiddle with your watch. Smile and finish strong!