This post is mostly derived out of frustrating, although I’m trying to come at it from an educational angle! I’m not a road racing pro, that’s for sure, but I’ve run over 15 races in the last two years ranging from 5Ks up to half marathons, so I at least feel like I’m justified in adding some of my own commentary on to what NOT to do during a race.
So here’s my list of what you shouldn’t be doing during a race (as told by ME!):
Do not run more than two people abreast.
I realize some people run in packs or groups for motivation and support, but you have got to realize just how annoying it is to be the person behind a group of 5 people who are all running at the same pace, side by side. It’s a huge hurdle to get around and it’s ANNOYING. If you want to talk to your friend, fine, but keep it to two people side by side. There’s nothing fun about having to get around a wall of people.
Do not come to a complete dead stop in the middle of the pack unless you are actually planning on keeling over.
You’ve signed up for this race, you’ve (hopefully) trained for it… there is no reason you need to come to an abrupt dead stop in the middle of the crowd. You run the risk of causing a pile up and you’re definitely going to annoy the person behind you who suddenly has to go around you. If you need to bring your pace down to a walk, slowly, but purposefully, move to the outer left or right sides of the racing crowd (even up onto the sidewalk if need be) and then decrease to a walking speed. If you stop in the middle of the group (and you’re not actually dying) then be aware that everyone around you is going to be thinking evil, evil thoughts towards you (some may even say it outloud).
Do not wildly overestimate your running time and get situated in a totally inappropriate corral.
At some point, you need to face the reality of what your body can and cannot do. I’m not talking about the people that over or underestimate their race pace by about 5 minutes, but rather the ones that overestimate by huge chunks of time like 20 minutes. Even if you didn’t train appropriately, you can always fall back into a slower corral at the start with no fault or penalty. Consider that you’re actually slowing up other people in faster corrals if you cannot keep their pace since those people now have to go around (or through) you! There’s nothing more annoying than watching someone who is clearly unfit come to a grinding halt in a fast corral, almost cause a pile up and then watch as THEY get annoyed at everyone else. Like what the hell buddy?!
This also goes hand in hand with:
Do not sign up for the faster corral just because you want to be in the starting line pictures.
I’ve never actually experienced this one, but a friend told me about it. People who sign up for the elite pace times just so they can appear in the starting line pictures. Do not want. Go back to where you belong!
Do not come to an abrupt dead stop at the finish line.
I know, you’ve been running and you’re exhausted, but take an extra few seconds to clear an additional five to ten meters after the finish line. This helps to keep the finish line clear for other racers to finish.
Do not try out new gear the day of a race.
I’m even referring to the technical shirts they give you for free just for signing up. The last thing you want to find out is that your new sports bra is going to chafe you in area you don’t want to get chaffed, or that your spiffy new shoes are going to give you blisters. ONLY wear gear that you have run in multiple times before!
For new runners, I hope this helps you! Even seasoned runners can do with a friendly (lol) reminder every now and again (I personally need to make sure I don’t come to a grinding halt at the finish line!). Let me know if you think I left anything out, or if you have specific questions re: racing, I’d love to help you out!