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What Happens When You Break Every Running Rule

Sometimes your best race happens when you do everything differently.

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As a Type A personality, I’m pretty organized when it comes to race training and the day of the event. That’s not to say I don’t have a Plan B or go with the flow when needed. Because, let’s be real, things never go as planned, but as far as the things I can control, I have a system in place.

Usually I like to train on the same type of terrain as the race itself. If I know the course, a practice run on the actual course is usually a nice way to get acquainted with the incline and pump myself up a bit! When it comes to fuel, I’ll try out a variety of different things, and once I find something that works (like those Clif Margarita shot bloks that I LOVE), I stick with it. During my long runs, I try to replicate what I’ll do for race day fueling so I can minimize surprises on race day. As far as gear and attire goes, I stick with a majority of the same things: my beloved Lululemon running shorts and tech tees, and whatever my sneaker love is at the moment.

When I finally hit my half marathon PR, which I’d been trying to do for 5 years, I broke all of the rules. For my training, I only did a couple of runs each week, since my teaching schedule is so busy and when I overtrain, my knees get angry. I did one Orangetheory class (intervals and speed), and one long steady run along the beach. For my long runs, I stopped focusing on time and just focused on distance. Since I wasn’t pushing myself with pace, I really enjoyed my training. I didn’t end up practicing on the actual race terrain, and instead, I hoped that my distance and speed combo, in addition to my barre, BODYPUMP and Spin teaching classes, would help me on race day.

Related: Get More Out Of Your Core Workout

As far as my “whatever” attitude on race day goes, it started off with a shirt that was given to me to wear the day of the race. I needed to wear it as part of the team and had never worn (let alone washed) it. The built-in bra cut off my circulation a bit, so I snipped the inside of it with scissors and called it good. To be honest, I was a little afraid to wear something new on race day. What about chafing? What if it didn’t breathe well? What if my bra hack job failed me and it split open as I was running? (Talk about a great finish line story haha.)

For the rest of my race day experience, I threw caution to the wind and just did whatever I felt like.

Instead of my usual pre-race breakfast, which is a small breakfast cookie or piece of toast with almond butter, I went with a bagel instead.

During the race, I decided to skip my fuel and just drank and ate whatever they had at the stations. Gatorade, Swedish fish, Gu’s, licorice from cheering stations? I had ALL of it.

The surprising thing: I felt great the entire time, and for the first time in my life, I crossed the finish line feeling exhilarated instead of depleted.

What was your last PR experience like? Do you have any running rules or rituals that you like to follow?