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How to run your best race

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10 tips to help run your best race.

with Steve Manning  – intraining Podiatrist  and Lvl 4 Running Coach 

It’s race season !!! 

Gold Coast Marathon and Sunshine Coast marathon are major goals for many of you.   Steve’s put together his 10 top tips to help you run your best possible and hopefully enjoyable race. 

You don’t need to use them all to help you run well, but each can give you a greater level of confidence in your ability to race well.  Plus, as you practice each of these over your running journey, you will discover different racing experiences.  

The most important aspect is to enjoy your racing and love your running.  

Finally, and often forgotten, is your race plan.  (Tip 6).  If you are not sure how to do this, make sure you book in to see one of our team at the shop to help create a plan suited to where you are at with your racing now.  

Have a great season of racing


1. Tapering

After months of progressively harder and longer training, you should have had a peak of mileage last week. The longer the race the longer the taper time required. Tapering is a reduction in total training load in the 3 weeks before a major goal race. This can mean no more long runs, fewer runs, shorter runs, less quantity in speed sessions.

2. Sharpening

When quantity is reducing in the taper intensity should be increasing. You run faster in speed sessions with more recovery between reps. Short time trials and races can also help stimulate your body so that it knows a big effort will soon be required.

3. Predictor Race

2 weeks before your major goal race you need to complete a shorter race that you can use to predict a realistic goal for your major goal race. It should be under similar conditions to your goal race regarding the surface, time and hilliness. If you run 10km in 45:00 minutes then you multiply that by 4.7 to get a realistic marathon time (3:31:30). You can get a half marathon time by dividing your marathon calculation by 2.1 (1:40:45). If it is your first half or full you should add an extra 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Power Session

10 to 12 days before your major goal race you do a power session. In this session, you only do 3 reps but run them much closer to maximum effort. This session should be the only time in training you run at maximum effort. They will usually be 15 to 30 seconds faster than your normally 1km rep pace. This is only possible because you have been tapering, you are only doing 3 reps and you also have maximum recovery of 4 to 5 minutes.

5. Pace Session

The Tuesday of race week we do a session where you are trying to run exactly at race pace. This should be the pace you want to run for most of the race. We normally do 3 x 1km with a 1km recovery. You cant look at your watch at all during the rep. Before you check your time after completing each rep you need to guess what time you ran. 3 seconds too fast is just as bad as 3 seconds too slow. Over the 3 repetitions you should not be out by any more than 10 seconds total. This is great practice for race day to make sure you do not go out too fast. It is also a good wake up call about how hard it is to run at your target pace.

6. Race Plan

Most people go out too fast in races. They are feeling good and get carried away with the crowd. This is a big mistake and can sometimes make it impossible to run your best potential time. 10 seconds a kilometre too fast at the start converts to a minute slower per kilometre at the end of the race. You should be running slower than goal pace the first 3 to 5km and then run slightly faster than goal pace for as long as possible. For example if your goal is to run 5 minutes per km you should start at 5:15/km. After the first few kms you should have warmed up and settled in and should be running at 4:55/km. By a bit after halfway you should be back on your average goal time but running faster then you need to achieve it. If you maintain that pace you will run even faster and if you slow the last few kms you will have a safe buffer all created in the second half of the race.

7. Carbo-loading

Long races will come close to depleting your freely available energy reserves. It is stored as glycogen in your blood, muscles and liver. Fat can be used as an energy source but has a greater metabolic load as it needs to be converted to glycogen. Many people try to delay this depletion with gels, chews and sports drinks. However it is also important to start the race with maximum reserves. This can be achieved through Carbo-loading where you increase the amount of carbohydrate you eat in the 2-3 days before the race. You should have more refined starches like white rice, bread and pasta. In the day before the race you should reduce high fibre foods and have higher carbohydrate foods that you like to eat. I also wake up 3 hours before the race and have some carbohydrate. You will also need to increase water intake but be careful of over-hydrating or overeating.

8. Race day nutrition

On race day I have a caffeine sports drink about 20 to 30 minutes before the start of major races. This tops up my energy and the caffeine helps me be prepared for a big effort. During the race you can use sports drinks to help reduce the risk of dehydration or Hypernatremia (diluted blood and low sodium levels). Sports gels and chews can also be used to maintain blood glycogen. You should try to have some supplementation at least every hour. It is important that you like the taste of any supplement you use so that it is maximally effective and you do not get sick. Try them in training before race day to be sure they will work on the day.

9. Supershoes

Supershoes have carbon plates, co-polymer midsoles and high stack heights with a big taper to the toe. They have been shown to have up to 8% improvement in race times depending on the person. They have also been shown to be effective for runners of all levels of ability. One of the big effects runners have reported when using supershoes is that their legs are in much better shape at the end of long races. Instead of hitting the wall and cramping and entering a survival shuffle for the last few kilometres runners are running strong at the end of races. This also results in better recovery after a marathon. intraining has a big range of supershoes so you can try them on and have a run to compare. Different supershoes will be more effective for different runners so you need to let your feet tell you which one suits you the best.

10. Foot check

You should have a quick check of your feet before a long race. Make sure your toenails are short so you do not bet a blood blister under the nail. If you have an excess buildup of callus then it can move independent of the rest of the skin and lead to blistering. If you are worried about your nails or callus then you can book into the clinic for a foot tune up before race day.

A rule of thumb is to not try anything new on race day. Practice using your gels, shoes and clothing beforehand. Stay in control and stick to your race plan. Follow these 10 points before race day and you can be confident that you will run your best potential time when it is most important.

Steve Manning

Steve Manning "The Footman"

Steve has been a running shoe aficionado for the last 4 decades and as the owner of intraining Running Centre has helped thousands of runners find the perfect shoe. He is a member of the Footman Biomechanics Group of the International Society of Biomechanics and a previous President of the Qld branch of Sports Medicine Australia. As a Podiatrist specialising in running sports injury prevention he utilises footwear prescription and modification to keep you running. Contact Steve at the intraining Running Centre, [email protected] for all your footwear questions.