“I start out running too slow. My adrenaline and nerves at the start of a race slow me down. I just can’t seem to speed up.”
I’ve never ever heard a runner make this statement.
“I started out too fast” or “I just couldn’t slow down and I blew it“.
I’ve heard many runners make this statement.
The odds are you too, have started out a race too fast at some point in your running career. You might even think it is impossible to start a race by running at a controlled pace. I’m here today to tell you can break this bad habit, but it’s going to take practice and mental strength.
Fresh legs from tapering, race day excitement and adrenaline can make sticking to your race plan difficult in the first few miles of the race. Starting out fast is a big no, no when it comes to executing a smart racing strategy. It prevents you from running a negative split, can bring about fatigue too early in the race and plays games with your mind.
What I’m about to tell you might surprise you.
It is in fact okay to start a race running too fast.
However, you must slow down before it’s too late.
To adjust your pace after the start gun goes off, you have to work on your mental game and be careful about how you speak to yourself.
Here’s exactly what to do the next time you start out running too fast during a race.
#1: Don’t panic. Acknowledge the fact that you are running too fast, but don’t place judgement on your pace or yourself. Instead of beating yourself up with negative thoughts, tell yourself this: “I’m going too fast, but that’s okay. I just need to pull back the reigns a little to nail my pace or effort level.”
#2 Tune into your body. Your breathing rate, stride rate, arm swing and sound of your foot strike provide immediate feedback that will clue you in to how fast you are running and when you have actually slowed your pace down.
#3 Don’t pass the next person just ahead of you. One of the easiest ways to slow down is to tuck in behind the next person you are about to run past instead of passing them. Very briefly use this runner as your pacer. Once you’ve caught your breath and slowed your pace back down, you can pass this runner. You can use this tactic again and again if necessary.
#4 Give yourself a little leeway. As part of your race day strategy, plan on giving yourself the first .5-1.0 mile to settle into your pace during long distance races such as marathons and half marathons. When you reach the 1 mile marker, slow your pace down. If you’re running a marathon or half marathon, running one mile a bit too fast won’t ruin your race. If you’re running a shorter race then you’ll need to reign your pace back in before you reach the one-mile marker.