Study The Race Course – My Weekly Training Recap

As with any major exam, you have to be ready and fully prepared to do well. Running a race is a test of your physical and mental strengths. You want to ace the test, to achieve a personal best. So you create an outline or list of things you strive to master from the training plan to proper nutrition to race logistics. One thing I feel is important to do but at most times unlikely is to run the part of the race course.  Last Saturday, Movin Shoes, one of San Diego’s local running stores, hosted the RNR San Diego Marathon/Half Marathon course preview run.

You may be wondering why I ran the course since I’m actually training for a trail half marathon.  I bet some of the people I ran with also wondered since a few had asked me if I was running the half or full to which my response was ‘Neither’.  I think I have mentioned previously that I’m currently the coach for MDA Team Momentum in San Diego.  And there are half a dozen members who are local and training for the half.  So when opportunities such as this one with Movin Shoes come up, I opt to participate and invite the team to do it.  Unfortunately, it’s been difficult to get the team to meet up for the morning runs due to a number of scheduling conflicts.  I showed up though representing Team Momentum with my bright yellow shirt on and ran with the group.

Hot and Sweaty after 12mi!

You know what I love about Movin Shoes? The organizer and coach, Mick. He’s very welcoming and a genuinely caring person.  This was a free event and he took the time to print out a map with turn-by-turn directions available for every runner.  At least 40 people showed up!  Along the course, we noticed arrows with RNR on it that pointed us to the next turn.  In addition to the map, Coach Mick with the help of a friend Judy, marked the course for both the half and full course with little  notes along the way.  Half’s distance was roughly 9mi and full was 16mi.

I had 12mi planned for the day so I followed the full marathon’s directions. This turned out to be a tough run during the final miles due to the heat and the hills back to the starting point. Fortunately I remembered to bring money since I ran out of fluids so I stopped at a beer/wine store and got a bottle of cold water.  Half of it was gone in mere seconds.  I also got one of the packed wipes (no longer frozen! If you haven’t had the chance, check my post on Five Ways I Heatproof My Run), soaked it with water and wiped myself before I put it on my head under my hat.  It definitely helped cool me off.

If your goal is to ace or PR a race, then it’s to your advantage to study or run on the course as much as possible. Especially if the course has plenty of turns, curves, and ups/downs such as RNR San Diego, you can determine how to run tangents and know exactly the feel of the inclines/declines on the course. Last year, the course actually changed in the final month prior to the race and I made the mistake of passing up the chance to do a practice run.  Of course I paid for that mistake when I didn’t expect the rolling hills during the final miles and didn’t reserve enough energy for it.

What if you live out of town and can’t run the course?  This is when you use the power of the internet and your research skills to find out as much as you can about the course. The best place to go is the event website but other resources are also available, such as Bib Rave and Race Raves. Of course, let’s not forget our fellow awesome bloggers who share detailed race recaps.

Another option is to drive through parts of the course a couple of days before the race if you arrive in town early enough with some time to spare. This allows you to solidify the course in your head especially if you studied it well beforehand.

Do you do training runs on the course if it’s a local race?  How do you study the course if the race is out of town?

I am linking with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Running Coaches’ Corner.