There are two elements that interact to produce results in any race: race fitness and race smarts. Without either one, true race potential will never be achieved. I have been on both sides of the race smarts equation though overall, I believe this is one of my advantages as a racer simply because I recognize that racing smart is oftentimes more important than fitness.
A year ago, I lined up on the start line of the Shamrock Half Marathon ready to set a new PR. Unfortunately, this day was not a PR day with cold temperatures, heavy rains, and 20+ mph winds. I said I am usually a smart racer but this day was not that case. You see, I am also stubborn and optimistic which can often get in the way of smarts. So, I took the first 6 miles out at goal pace into a strong head wind (an effort equivalent to around 15 sec / mile faster than goal pace) and paid for it heavily on the back half of the course. Optimism and stubbornness won on that day.
Smart racing plays out in many ways during races: in pacing, how you warm up, what you focus on during the race, how you position yourself at the start and through various periods of the race, when you attack, and how you set up a sprint finish. The key is that you always need to be thinking about what is ideal for you and what is in the head of your competition. Combine those two and you will find success in many ways.
This weekend, many of us are racing the Shamrock Half Marathon and 8k. Unfortunately, the conditions – especially Sunday – will be similar to what we experienced a year ago. I encourage you to read the race strategy below to learn just how to do that. Remember, the best race is not always the one with the best time at the end but rather the one where you raced the best despite the conditions. Race smart – best of luck!