Growing up, one of my favorite books was Berenstain Bears “The Bike Lesson”. The whole book is about the father making mistakes when teaching them to ride a bike and then telling them that “This is what you should not do. Let this be a lesson to you.”
Let me be your Bike Lesson.
This is what you should not do…
Overdress – yes, it often feels chilly waiting at the start line. And no one wants to get the shivers. But wearing too much can quickly lead to overheating if it’s actually warm out or getting sweaty and then freezing if it’s not. Most suggest dressing like it’s 20* warmer than it is. I have to be careful about that as I tend to run cold. SOLUTION: Throwaway clothes. My personal favorite is a zip up hoody, usually outgrown by my children, because if I’m really cold, I can run the first mile in it.
Underdress – I learned the hard way that I run cold. At an RNR DC race a few years ago, I listened to all of my runner friends who run hot and wore too little clothing. The end result? I ran an entire half marathon with a heat blanket wrapped around me. SOLUTION: Layers and zippers. I often have on arm sleeves that can be pulled down or off easily. I also make sure that I can open up my top layer (sometimes my top two) to let cool air on my core if I start to overheat. Bonus there is that you can always easily zip back up.
Go out too fast – We’ve all done it. We’ve all born the consequences. Even in a 5K, a too fast first mile can make that last mile a trudge. SOLUTION: Do tempo work during training and pay attention to how you feel. Learn to listen to your body and know when you need to back off. Also, unless it’s a short race, use the first mile as a warm up. In my fastest half marathons, my first mile is usually my slowest.
Ignore nutrition – This can be any number of things: drinking too much the night before, eating too heavy of a meal before the race (or the night before the race), forgetting to eat at all, not eating enough during a race… I’ve done all of them. SOLUTION: Know your digestive system. For example, I know I have trouble eating anything solid after about mile 18 (including gels). So I’ve learned to drink Gatorade and soda anytime it’s offered to get added calories in my body. For MCM this past year, I had one orange slice, a Carb Boom Energy gel, and a Twizzler. Thankfully I had been drinking Gatorade as often as I could and had a decent amount of Coke in Crystal City.
I’ve made many other mistakes over the years – poor clothing choices that led to chafing, shoe choices that led to limping, running when I shouldn’t run, not preparing for the hills in a race, etc. But I like to think that I’ve got the major issues under control – at least until I make another stupid mistake.
What’s the worst mistake you’ve ever made in a race? Did I mention the time I ran over grates in Vibrams and my skirt threatened to fall off? Good thing that race was only a 5K…