Although most of us out there are not trying to break any world records in our next race, some of us are looking to PR, or just simply finish the marathon/triathlon itself. One way to get an edge on the competition (even if the competition is only with yourself) is to go over the event race course, if possible.
Here are some tips, reasons and benefits to knowing the ins and outs of the endurance race course you will be participating in:
- By knowing the course well allows you to plan on when to be aggressive and when to lay back a bit during the race.
- Training on the race course allows you to visualize your race better.
- Areas of a course where you are a bit fearful or unsure of (the huge hill you heard about or a more isolated part of a course, for example) can be turned into positives if you take the time to train on those points and get familiar with them.
- Knowing the terrain or footing of a course may eliminate accidents in a crowded race.
- If you don’t have time to run the course, jump in your car and drive part (or all) of the course, if possible. This at least gives you a familiarity to any elevation changes, sharp turns, etc. you should be aware of.
- Knowing where the finish line is and homestretch can be great for your psyche come race day: Although mile and kilometer markers are usually out on most longer endurance race event courses, it is possible to miss them. But if you know that for example, the McDonald’s on 24th Street is only 1.5 miles from the finish line, then these golden arches take on a happier and more motivational meaning to you than just one of the few McDonald’s you may have passed during the race.
Do Some Research If You Can’t Make it Out to the Course
We don’t always have the time to go over every inch of a longer endurance race course, especially if we are flying in the day before. But, at least take a look online at the race map and check out any elevation changes along the course and make mental notes, so you are not surprised when at mile-13 of a marathon there is a 800-meter steep incline or at the 25-mile mark of the triathlon cycle-leg there is an awesome 3-mile decline where you can really let loose!
You have put in months and months of physical preparation for this race, now as you get closer to race day you need to start thinking about how to attack the course – nothing better than to train on all or part of it beforehand, if feasible.
Good luck out there.