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5 Race Mistakes Runners Should Avoid

Updated: Apr 1, 2019

In the last three years, I have paced a number of races including; ScotiaBank Waterfront Marathon, Toronto Marathon (Half), Oakville Half Marathon, Around the Bay (30K) and Chilly Half Marathon.

During each race, I have found that most runners make five mistakes during a race -

1. Runners Start Too FAST

The most common mistake that most runners can agree on is that they start the race too fast. For most races, I typically start with a very large group of runners (20+) who are determined to “stick to the bunny,” in order to achieve a goal time. In the end, that very large group can be counted on one hand.

While most runners feel very strong early in the race, the tendency is to go fast and exceed any expectations. Runners forget that the challenging part of a race is at the last 5-10 km (3-7 miles).

The secret is to conserve as much energy as possible for the end part of the race, and not use up all your energy at the beginning.

2. Don't Be Mr./Ms. Chatterbox

Most runners have one objective during a race - to achieve a “personal best” time. In every race I have paced, there is always one or two runners who want to achieve a personal best but become “Mr/Ms Chatterbox;” and talk for most of the race.

Talking during a run only makes the run more difficult and it become harder to control your breathing. Let the Pace Bunny do all the talking, the pace is merely at “their steady pace” and they have the energy to talk to others.

3. Don't Have a Race Plan

Too often, runners ask me what is my pace bunny pace, and in one or two seconds decide that they are going to stick with that pace. Proper planning and having a race strategy is essential to achieving a goal time.

If you plan to follow a Pace Bunny, ask them what their strategy for the race is (positive split, negative split, even pace, banking time, etc.) If the Pace Bunny is not running according to your plan (e.g. running too fast from the average pace time), “dump” the bunny and move on.

4. Quit 3/4 Into The Race

As mentioned earlier, most runners start a race with me will often give up around the 18km (Half Marathon) or 32km (Marathon) distance.

Although there are many reasons for the few runners who finish with a Pace Bunny, there are a number of reasons why this happens including –

  • Starting out too fast

  • Did not train enough to finish the distance strong

  • Did not hydrate or nourish themselves during the race

  • The goal time exceed the reality – lack of proper training

5. Skip Pre-Race Preparations

Pre-race preparations include everything that has been done on the day of a race, before the race starts.

Pre-race preparation activities can include –

  • Have a decent breakfast, preferable something familiar (i.e. oatmeal, bagel/toast with peanut butter)

  • Arrive to the race at least 45 – 60 mins before the start time

  • Use the amenities and bag check as early as possible

  • Arrive in your corral at least 15 minutes before

  • Warm up while waiting for your race to start (running on the spot, squats, knee raises, etc.)

  • Visualize how well you are going to do during the race, and how happy you will be once you have finished the race

  • Check your equipment (watch, laces, hydration pack, etc.)

  • Take a number of slow and deep breathes to relax yourself before the start of the race

On your next race, don’t make the mistakes most runners do. Remember, the only person you are racing against is you (your mind). If you have trained properly (preferably in a coached environment such as, the race will be challenging but not impossible.

Lastly, be nice to your Pace Bunny and thank them for volunteering to help you achieve your goal.


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