Are There Tricks To Starting A Race Conservatively?

NCAA runner turned high school coach Hillary Kigar has an answer for all things training!

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NCAA runner turned high school coach Hillary Kigar has an answer for all things training! 

Q: How can I keep my nerves and excitement from making me go out too fast during a race? Are there any tricks?

It can be hard to keep calm and go at your own pace when everyone around you seems to sprint as soon as the gun goes off! At the start line there are often pace groups. Find your appropriate group so that you are in a pack with others who will be running around your goal pace from the beginning. Additionally, while it may seem silly, practice starting a normal run or a workout by saying, “Runners, take your marks, set, go!” in your head and start the run at an appropriate, but not too excited, pace. With more experience and races under your belt, I bet you will find that you end up passing most of those eager rabbits who started off so quickly.

Related: Race Day Strategy

Q: When I was younger I used to run 7-minute miles in cross country. Is it possible to get back to that? Currently I’m at 9:30 pace.

Sounds like you were really moving in high school! Most likely your daily life—and your body—is in a different place now than when you were in high school, so it’s important to be realistic with your goals. With consistent and incremental adjustments to your training, you can definitely improve on your pace, but remember not to get too aggressive with changes to your training. Too much too soon leads to injury and setbacks. And that is no fun at all!

Related: How To Get Faster

Q: I’m a new runner. When running, should I be trying to bounce or sort of glide?

The best answer is that it is somewhere in between both of those motions. You want to try to divide your energy between pushing forward laterally while simultaneously pushing up vertically off of the ground. Run down the block and have a friend watch you. Tell her to check if 1) the level of your head stays the same with no real “bounce” and 2) your feet come up slightly above your ankles with each step, but not as high as your knees. It can also be helpful to go on YouTube and watch clips of professional runners at races. Pay attention to their body mechanics and what they do with their upper body as well as their legs.

Related: Advice For New Runners

Shoe Games…Time to up yours.
Running shoes are by far the most important piece of running equipment. A number of minor running-related injuries can be traced back to your footwear. Take the time to go to a quality running specialty store and have a sales associate assist you in finding the right shoe that fits your foot and sup-ports your running mechanics. Don’t forget to replace your shoes every 300 miles (or every 3 to 4 months). Your shoes support you, so support them too!

Have a question for Coach Kigar? Email or tweet @womensrunning with the hashtag #AsktheCoach.