Learn from Past Races: 5 Tips on How to Review Your Race to Improve Your Performance

Running continues to be a popular way to stay fit and socialize with people in your community. You might feel good during social runs and decide to step it up and sign up for a race. Chances are, the first race you try to complete will be a real challenge, with plenty of areas you can improve in. The good news is you can take your experience from the first race and use it to improve on your next one. You can also learn similar lessons by watching how other people train for and run their races. There are plenty of different things to consider when trying to be a better runner—let’s look at the ways you can learn from past races.

Written by Lucas Collins
Edited by Pavlína Marek

1. Improve Your Goals

The first thing you should consider is the goal you set for the race you’re reflecting on. Was it to hit a certain pace? Beat a previous time? Just finish? Keeping that goal in mind when you reflect on the success of the race will help you feel good about your performance and help you set an appropriate goal for your next race.

This applies to your training as well. Improving your training plan in order to hit those higher goals is one of the most important things you can do. Making small adjustments and improvements based on your plan from the previous race will help build your endurance, prevent injuries, and make hitting those goals a real possibility.

2. Keep Yourself Motivated

Motivation is paramount when it comes to distance running. Your reason for running should be personal to you and push you towards the finish line. Some people run to stay fit, some to be social, while others do it just for fun! Talking to other runners or reading about professionals can help you determine what a good motivator for you might be.

Good motivation will help you overcome the physical challenges of a half marathon or any other race. Running for that long will leave you feeling physically drained, so being able to fight through that pain with willpower will help ensure you finish the race. You can learn from past races in regards to motivation, too. Just look at what worked for you before and what factors didn’t prove to be strong motivators.

Running could greatly improve your mental wellness

3. Fuel Your Body Correctly

Another important aspect to review is your nutrition and hydration strategy, both before and during the race. Before race day, you should be fueling your body with everything it needs to have energy on demand. Even if you run to be fit, you should make sure you do not have a calorie deficit leading up to race day. Eating enough to make sure you maintain or have extra calories leading up to rest is essential.

During shorter races, it is important to not eat too much as to make yourself sick on race day. You need to eat just enough to keep your body moving. (Worry about replacing those calories after you cross the finish!)

Hydration is just as important, but thankfully even simpler. It’s crucial to drink enough water both leading up to and on race day. A proper amount of hydration will ensure that your performance stays at its peak level. Use the first few days post-race to review what nutrition and hydration strategies worked and/or what needs to be adjusted.

4. Find the Right Pace

Pacing helps you avoid burnout before the end of the race. Being able to feel the different speeds that you should be running at depending on energy, terrain, weather, and more will help. Learn from past races to make sure you optimize you pacing of your upcoming races. This in particular is easy to track even after the race as remembering your time (and splits, if they are tracked) makes calculating your pace a breeze. 

5. Share Tips with Others

As mentioned above, one of your best resources for learning are your fellow runners! Not only can you benefit from watching them, you can ask them how they approached the race, and see if there are any areas you could improve on.

Nobody is perfect or has all the right answers, so this exercise is nothing but beneficial to you and the person you are talking to. Sharing your journey can be just as useful as others can point out ways you can improve. They will also appreciate you sharing what you know with them and helping to make them a better runner as well.

A run with family and friends

Running a half marathon takes more planning than people sometimes realize. A large part of the planning comes from learning from the past and improving on what you did there. Keeping your goals in mind, staying motivated, giving your body what it needs, pacing yourself well, and communicating with other runners and race enthusiasts will all help make you a better runner. Taking this time to review and improve your methods will prepare you all the better for your next race!

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