It seemed that the fifteen minutes before a race started, and the 5 minutes after the gun sounded, were way different than anything I had trained for. There was typically a long - standing in place - delay in the starting corral ... followed by a seemingly all out sprint by every runner around me when the gun went off. So basically my legs had gone stiff and cold, and I'd lost any warm up momentum I'd built, followed by an immediate dash across the starting line while we sorted out the leaders toward the front of the pack. What the heck ... I hadn't practiced this!!!
So last year I began focusing at least one of my weekly workouts on simulating a race day start. This was the workout I did this morning. For this workout, I'll typically warm up for a couple of miles, and then stand around for about 4-5 minutes, and then begin running again, trying to simulate the exact pace I'll be doing on race day for 5-6 miles. (On a side note, I'll just stop and stand around for that 4-5 minutes where ever I happen to be at the time. So yes, it looks a little strange to see a guy in the early morning dark hours ... just standing there on the side of the street ... gawking at cars ... not running or walking or anything. Po-Po hasn't questioned me yet, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.)
I think the race day simulation has helped me with a couple of things. Number one, it slows my heart rate from the warm up and gets me used to a cold start. I would prefer not to slow my heart rate at all, but it seems inevitable at every race. Number two, it ramps me up to race pace much faster than I would normally pursue in an average workout. And honestly, since I utilized this approach, I really don't have those races anymore where 5 minutes in I'm like, "What the heck - why are we running so fast!"
For example, here's how today's workout went ...
2 Mile Warm Up ... 8:26, 7:37
Stand in place for about 5 minutes, then start "race" ...
Mile 1 ... 6:57
Mile 2 ... 6:43
Mile 3 ... 6:35
Mile 4 ... 6:35
Mile 5 ... 6:43
Mile 6 ... 6:22
2 Mile Cool Down ... 8:28, 8:32
Today's run was a little slower than I wanted, but my legs are REALLY fatigued right now. I'll probably take an extra day of rest this week to avoid injury and get some bounce back - but this should convey the general idea. Hopefully your running is going well - have a great week!
... be great today!