Running A-to-Z R is for Rookie Racing Mistakes

Welcome to another edition of Running A-to-Z where I cover a running related topic following the order of the alphabet. This week we are on letter R. R is for for Rookie Racing Mistakes. If you missed any past posts you can catch up on letters A through Q in the archives

I am an authority on rookie racing mistakes because I have made them all myself. Sometimes you have to make the mistakes in order to learn from them. Let's run through the what not-to-do on race day. These mistakes are not just reserved for rookies. It took me years to learn some of these lessons.



The golden rule of racing is to not try anything new on race day. Not shoes, not that new singlet from the expo, not a new breakfast because you heard it's what Meb eats on race day. Go with what you know on race day to avoid any surprises. Those shoes could cause blisters, that tank might rub your armpits the wrong way and Meb's breakfast of champions could be the worst thing for your stomach on race day. You train for a reason. You are practicing for the big race. You already know what works for you. Don't mess with it on race day. 


It took me a long time to learn to reign it in at the start line and beyond. It is so easy to run faster than you trained when you are hyped up on adrenaline. It seems everyone is going fast and you feel great, why not keep up this pace and bank some time? You can slow down later. 

Except it never works. Never. If you are trained at a certain pace you can't expect to run your race faster than you trained. You will empty your fuel tank and hit the wall. A steady pace will get you across the finish line. If you feel great towards the end can you pick up the pace in the last few miles, not the first few. 


It can be tempting to rationalize a large pizza and an extra serving of garlic bread the night before a race in the name of carbo-loading, but don't fall for this myth. This can cause gastrointestinal distress which can ruin a race. Yes, runners need carbs, but healthy carbs should be increased gradually in the days leading up to race day, not one giant unhealthy carb meal the night before the race.


Just say no to anything cotton on race day or any other training day. Cotton absorbs sweat which can lead to blisters, embarrassing sweat stains and an uncomfortable racing experience. Stick to performance apparel that wicks away sweat.


Plan on everything taking longer than you think. The porta-potty lines are long, parking can take a lot of time, the walk to the start line may be farther than you thought. You have enough on your mind on race day, you don't need the stress of showing up late. Minimize the stress by getting to the race site early. 


Checking your GPS watch at every quarter mile marker to make sure your on pace and putting an immense amount of pressure on yourself can suck the fun right out of race day. It's great to have goals and go for new PRs but don't forget, this is supposed to be fun! Enjoy race day! 

Have you ever made any of these mistakes? I sure have. Did I miss anything?

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Coach Lea

I am a NASM personal trainer and RRCA adult distance running coach that specializes in strength training for runners. I offer in-person training in the Shredshed, online training and Fit to Run bootcamps. If you are interested in a more in-depth running or strength training plan, please contact me. Have questions? I'd love to help. 

While I am a certified personal trainer, I am not your personal trainer. Since I don't know your exercise abilities, injury background or medical history, please see your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.