Front of the pack runners also have a specific set of needs when choosing a race. Last week, we covered how their back of the pack peers can find the right race. This week, we’re shifting gears to see what runners seeking podium spots look for.
Look At The Course
The type of race course always matters, but it can make a huge difference to front of the pack runners. Look for flat and fast courses, with longer straightaways. All of this helps make runners more efficient on the course and works towards a speedier finish. Hills, corners, and twists serve to slow runners down.
Check Out The Field
When you want to go out fast, and possibly take a spot on the podium, check out the depth and breadth of the field. You can look at previous year’s results for an idea of what you will most likely be up against. Also, note that smaller races usually offer more room on the course, and less crowding, leaving you plenty of space to navigate your race strategy.
Pick Something Official
Make sure the race you choose is measured and certified by the USATF. With this official seal of approval, you know exactly how far you are running, rather than risking a little long or short.
Decide On Chip vs. Gun Start
Races can judge their winners by gun (runners are timed from when the gun fires) or by chip (runners are timed from when their chip crosses the line. There are pros and cons to both, but runners who focus more on their speed will want to make this distinction to factor into their race choice.
Size Up The Weather
Weather can play a huge role in your race day performance, so choose wisely. Obviously, weather is uncontrollable, but a marathon in Florida in September will most likely be hot, sunny, 100% humidity, with a chance of steamy rain. That’s not optimal for most runners (unless you’ve trained in a rain forest), so find a race with a season and region that make sense for you.
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If you’re a faster runner, what do you look for in a race course?
Lisa @ Mile by Mile says
Weather is such a huge factor when it comes to racing well! Most of the local races I’ve done base their winners on gun time. It makes it more important to start up front when you’re trying to place!
Deborah Brooks says
Weather is huge for me. You will rarely see me sign up for a race from May-August because the heat and humidity just kills me! Great tips to take into mind
Darlene S Cardillo says
Not front of the pack but as you age up, you can be competitive. That’s what I love about running. You compare yourself to others your own age.
Weather is a big factor as is if the course is hilly or not.
And if I am trained or just doing it for fun.
I always study the start list to see who will be there. Over time, I have got to know the fast ladies in my age group and it helps to know in advance who will be there!
These days I mostly just look for local races. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or because my husband hasn’t been running much (we usually travel and race together) but I just don’t feel like traveling to races anymore. Even though I’m signed up for Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego in a month. We’ll see!