On Sunday October 20th I ran my fourth Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. Because of where it occurs in my training schedule it is a race that I have always used for pacing and this year was no different – sort of.
What was different is that since May I have been training with a new team, the RUNWAY, and so my race strategy was a little more specific then it has been in previous years. With the goal of a personal best at this weekends Road to Hope Marathon, I was under specific directions to run my full marathonrace pace during this half marathon – no faster, no slower – and this was hard – not physically hard, mentally hard.
My plan was simple, stick to a 5:30 pace and keep my walk breaks (which were every 20min -ish) to 30 seconds and come in at 2 hours – no faster, no slower. I came in at 2:00:59.
What was hard about this race was the mental game. I knew I could run faster – but the goal of this B race was to set myself up for success this weekend, for my A race.
So with this Mental Challenge in mind, here are 3 tips for overcoming the mental game while pacing at a race.
1. Have a Solid Understanding of Your Goal aka Run Your Own Race. I was mentally challenged for almost the entire race knowing I could run faster but shouldn’t. But because I knew the importance of keeping this pace I didn’t and no matter how frustrating it was – especially when all, yes all, of my friends ran personal bests, I held back and focused on my goal – slow and steady. So the lesson, don’t be worried if you see a lot of people passing you, run your own race!
2. Start Slow. My previous plan was to just go! I would get caught up in the energy and excitement and even after 6 years of racing and 4 marathons, I would always burst out to fast. But not this time! I used my Nike + SportWatch and kept pulling back and slowing down to 5:30, because that was the plan. So the lesson, listen to your body but take it slow. Remember the goal is to race the entire run, not just the first 2km. So take it slow, and know your body with thank you during the last few kms.
Now I ended up running this race with my friend Jenna, it wasn’t the plan but my pace worked for her race speed (gave her a PB) and the company was nice. So pretty much I broke this last rule, but will definitely be sticking with it this weekend.
3. Don’t Get Caught in the Hype. I like to chat, love saying thanks, and enjoy jumping and dancing around on course celebrating my run. When your race is for fun it’s great to get into the groove of the event, when you have a specific goal in mind, that’s where your energy needs to go. So the lesson, stay as calm as possible, resist the urge to high five spectators, bottom line is conserve your energy for the race. My exception – always find time to give thanks.