10 Reasons to Race Before the Big One

Whether you are motivated by collecting a finisher's medal, running a goal time, or winning prize money I would like to offer you 10 reasons to race before the day of your big event.

1.  Know how you react to pinning on a race number.  Some people get an upset stomach and lose their mind the first time they race or even if it has just been awhile.  Familiarity with the process will sooth the stomach and steady the nerves.

2.  If this will be your first race or the first of its' kind in terms of size, distance, or course do you really want to find out what you don't know you don't know when you are all in for the final exam?  A few races before then will serve as pop quizzes before the big day.  Reducing the number of surprises on the day of your goal race usually results in a better experience and chance of success.

3.  Avoid experimenting on race day.  By definition experimenting means you are not sure of the outcome.   The fewer unpredictable factors you have on race day usually indicates a more favorable finish line photo.

4.  Learn to discern between controllable and uncontrollable variables.  Running smart and running your best effort are controllable.  Weather, crowd, competition, and many more are uncontrollable.

5.  Focus on doing your best with the controllable and adjusting to the uncontrollable.  For example, you will not run as fast in 90 degrees and you would in 60 degrees.  Adjusting your plan for the tough weather conditions will allow you to do your best.  Ignoring them will ensure all your training effort is wasted.

6.  Nail down your diet for race weekend.  There might be plenty of great foods you include in your normal diet that don't lend themselves to a great prerace dinner.  Finding that out in training or a less important race is valuable information.

7.  Practice your race day nutrition in action.  Lot's of gels, bars, bites, and drinks go down great in training but at a higher effort, speed, and level of dehydration maybe not so much.  Find out now.

8.  Test run your race plan.  It might not be for the same exact distance or pace as on goal race day, but learning that going out hard and banking time may not be your best approach is better to find out in a 10K than a half marathon.

9.  Reward yourself for all of your training.  There is great reward to training, but having some memorable performances to show for your training time and effort is a great reward.  You will find you can do things on race day that just don't happen on a training run.

10.  Take more shots at great performances.  If you are fit and ready to race and save it for just a few races you gamble that the uncontrollable variables will be in your favor on those few days each year.  The more times you line up rested and ready the better your chances of being able to cash in training deposits for a great day at the races.