Speed Bumps: The Top Ten Mistakes made by Ten Miler Racers
by Mark Lorenzoni
1. Storing too much hay in the barn the weekend prior to the race.
Most experts recommend a day/mile recovery before shifting your engine into high gear. If you want to race feeling fully recovered then run nothing further than seven miles the weekend prior to race day.
2. Not resting your piggie wiggies enough the day before the race.
The smoking gun for "dead legs" on race day can often be directly traced to how much time you spent on your feet the day before. Especially beware of hanging out on concrete-based floors!
3. No race day navigational chart.
One of the most dangerous pre-race phrases is "I'm simply going to run how I feel... I'm just trying to finish." Set your game plan prior to race day & visualize it. A good rule of thumb for those racing their first 10-miler is to cruise at about 20-40 sec/mile faster than what your normal long run base has been. Still would rather "race how you feel"? Well, that's exactly what's going to happen: you'll run fast at the beginning, when you're feeling great, & slow down to a crawl towards the end, when you're feeling dead tired!
Two Mile Time Trial - Ten Miler Race Potential Chart
4. Not enough high octane in the tank.
Improper hydration, especially if the temp or humidity are unseasonably high, can lead you down a dangerous road. Sip, not gulp, plenty of hydrating fluids the day before & morning of race. If it's warm and/or humid on race morning, make sure to take a few sips (3-5 oz) at every aid station, which are spaced 2 miles apart throughout the course. Don't wait til you're thirsty to have your 1st drink. Drink early & often!
5. Last minute cramming.
Taking a little extra time to pick up your race packet the night before can afford you some quiet time to digest the important info included and avoid the stress of standing in long lines the morning of the race. Packet includes shirt, race #, shoe chip and important race day instructions, which are obviously useless to you if you don't pick them up until a few minutes before the start!
6. Wearing too much to the dance.
Often the C10 lands on one of those much dreaded hot & humid early spring days & because it's often chilly at the start, many novice pile on too much clothing, forgetting the act of running warms you up. Exercise physiologists say expect to feel 15 degrees warmer than actual air temp. If you feel chilled prior to starting, layer lightweight clothes & peel it off along the course.
7. Unveiling the "new your" on race day.
Race morning is NOT the time for experimenting... therefore no new shoes, socks, sports bras, gels, sports drinks, shirts or anything else you're tempted to add to your race experience. Any experimenting should be done during your practice long runs prior to race day!
8. Emulating the hare instead of the tortoise.
No other rule is broken more than this mother of all mistakes and the results are always ugly! Start off your race experience on the right foot by lining up behind your predicted pace group & taking it easy for the first 2 miles. Resist the temptation & make the 1st mile your slowest, you will surely be rewarded with an excellent finish!
9. Not going for "the gold" on the downhills.
Most folks moan about the uphills of the 10 Miler course, but few talk about the steep downhills along the way. There's no better way to compliment your own race performance & to make up for the tough uphills then to let yourself go by opening up your stride & leaning into the downhills. Caution: Don't practice this until race day because your knees will rebel!
10. Not knowing when to take a vacation.
Most injuries assocated with racing the 10 Miler occur in the weeks AFTER the race, when many folks, instead of throwing the engine into low gear, continue to pound the pavement because they're "motivated and feeling so good." Don't run more than 4 miles for a given run in the 2-3 wks after race day. This not only affords your some physical recovery, but also allows for a break in the mental instensity of training for a big race. Spend this special post-race time celebrating your accomplishments. After all, don't you deserve it?!