Athletics Magazine

5 Things NOT To Do During Your Next Race

By Brisdon @shutuprun
Last weekend Ken and I did a trail half marathon (Black Squirrel Half Marathon near Ft. Collins). If you do trails, you know they take much longer and are generally much more laid back than road races. Living in Colorado, we have our fair share of trail races, especially May through October. Even though I've done dozens of races over the past eight years, I am still always humbled and still always learning.

5 Things NOT To Do During Your Next Race

Start line. Ugly.

 Here's what this race taught me:
1. Do not under eat before the race even if your nerves are messing with you. I am the type of person who gets some pre-race anxiety. Really the only way this plays out is that I am slightly queasy and have the toughest time choking down food. I had a jelly and butter sandwich with me to eat along with coffee before the race. With each bite I felt like I might puke. What I should have done is made sure I had an alternative food source with me, just to get in some carbs and calories. Even a gel  or a boiled potato (potatoes always sound palatable) would probably have gone down better. The result was that I started the race on a calorie deficit without much in the way of glycogen stores and this definitely zapped my energy.
2. Do not bring a mocha, coffee or chocolate gel. Well, do bring it if you plan to eat it all and throw it away. But don't only eat half of it because it's disgusting and you didn't try it before the race (Clif Mocha shot) and then you don't finish it and then there is no trash can and then you put the unfinished gel in your back pocket. Because what happens (duh) is that he remaining gel leaks out and you 100% look like you crapped your pants. I wish I had a picture, but when I got home and realized how bad it looked, I was mortified and just threw the shorts in the shower with me as quickly as possible.
3. Do not think you know the course if you have not run the course. I studied the elevation profile and knew where the climbs were. I even read some past race reports and knew the general outline of the course. But I did not anticipate that the last five miles were going to be extremely exposed (no shade) and that the 80 degree heat would get to me like it did. Not anticipating the lack of shade, I got behind on my hydration and that caught up to me and slowed me down considerably. In past years, the race has been at least 10 degrees cooler, so the heat was not anticipated. But, be ready for anything!
5 Things NOT To Do During Your Next Race

4. Do not walk when you really can run. Walking during trail runs and ultras is perfectly acceptable and expected mostly because there are places where it is nearly impossible to run due to terrain or the grade of the hill (or mountain in this case). In this race, I walked the really steep sections, as expected (and so did everyone else). But once I hit the flatter and more rolling parts, my brain gave up a bit. I was hot and tired and surrendered to the desire to walk, even though I probably didn't need to. I know this is an area that I can really work on.

5 Things NOT To Do During Your Next Race

This is not a picture of me walking because you never walk when you see the camera.

5. Do not keep thinking about how you paid good money to engage in this type of suffering. In other words, keep your head up and your attitude positive. With every person who passed me towards the end I would mentally beat myself up (not physically, because that would be really weird). I kept having to re-frame my thinking to remind myself that it takes guts to be out there in the first place and that I am 50 years old and still chugging along at an okay clip. Races like this just make me want to get stronger (after the fact).
After all was said and done I finished in 2:43 - 8th/18 in my age group and 71st/153 females. I was disappointed for a second as I thought I could get closer to 2:30, but then I drank a beer (Fat Tire!) and didn't care anymore.
5 Things NOT To Do During Your Next Race

Happy trails!

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