Page 1 2 If time targets are up, go to a realistic target based on slightly faster than the pace of your sustained runs, or at your current personal record. No time targets on display? Start near the back. Avoid starting off too fast. The adrenaline flowing makes this hard at times, but the rewards are high if you can achieve it. Your legs soon get tired and also fill up with the wastes of anaerobic running, which results in a labored running action. It is much better to run at an even pace, though the first and last mile are likely to be faster than the middle section.
Negative splits are even better, which means running the second half of the race faster than the first half. This requires restraint for the first mile, something you were practicing in your tempo runs. Don't take too much notice of your mile or kilometer times, or splits. Even if the entire course is accurate, many of the intermediate mile signs are wrong. Markers have been put out the morning of the race, based on a car's odometer, or attached to the lamppost nearest the actual point, or obliterated.
Used as a guide, mile markers are useful; within a hundred meters, most are correct. In a 10K race, the two or three mile, or 5K point may be the most benefit to you. If you can think straight, average your mile times to give yourself a more accurate picture. Arithmetically challenged? Write your mile split times on a piece of tape or bandaid and place it on your wrist.
Running at even effort is vital. Your easy week will make your legs feel fresh. The Wednesday speed session was to practice pace judgment with fresh legs. On race day, don't run faster than you planned for just because you feel nifty and fresh in the first half a mile. Steady is the key. If you can keep your heartrate within 10 beats per minute of your average for the race, you'll race better. A surge at each mile point may make you feel good while you're doing it, but it will cost you before the race is over. The faster you start, the more likely you are to hurt early in the race. In fact, don't look for any pain in the first few races. Enjoy the day and achieve times which you'll beat later...while perhaps hurting a bit as you reach your full race potential.
Warmdown after the race. Race recovery starts with 10 minutes of walking or easy running to cooldown from the race, plus liquid and a snack of mostly carbo and a bit of protein to keep your muscles happy (to help them recover).
You'll have to distinguish between physical and mental fatigue in your early races. Picture yourself crossing the finish line with good running form and a smile.
Practice will help you cope with any self-inflicted stresses. Run the first few races with minimal time or place targets and you will not have an Olympians jitters. In a couple of years you can get really nervous at your Olympics when you try for your first sub 30 or sub 20 minute 5K. On those days, just like in your early races, fatigue is likely to be from:
Spectators are likely to shout "looking good" to you. Practice economical form to look as good as your body will let you.
Mental training is important for fast racing because it helps you through the tough spots. Run at the correct pace for you on race day, and break the race into sections while controlling the things that you can control. Some days, a racer will run across your path and mess up your rhythm. Let the anger go. Regain your form and cruise along effortlessly while waiting for him to fade. Race every 4 to 6 weeks at a variety of distances up to 10K. Include local cross-country, road, and track races. After a few months, move onto slightly higher mileage or more quality as shown in Running Dialogue. Page 1 2
Adapted from chapter nine (The early races) of 5K Fitness Run: Walk, Jog & Train for Fun, Health & to Race the 5K by David Holt, which takes joggers and runners to the 5K and to the 10K if they wish. 5K Fitness Run includes injury prevention advice, stretching, nutrition, over pages of cross training and schedules at 12 to 30 miles per week with speed tables for all runners..