How to manage the start of a race being delayed

Delays happen.  Believe it or not, but they do happen in road races.  Typically, the smaller the race, the more likely a race is to start behind schedule.  How you deal with that delay can mean the difference between a bad race and a good one.

managing a race delay and still racing well
managing a race delay and still racing well

How to overcome a delay and still run well

  • Stay warm – the colder it is out, the faster your muscles will get cold. Cold muscles = no good.
  • Stay loose – jog around, do some strides, and some light running.  You won’t get tired from doing a bit of slow running.
  • Stay hydrated – Sip on water until you find out more information about why the race hasn’t started.
  • Stay calm.  It’s hard to stay calm and collected when you’ve timed your warm up to race at a specific time.  When in doubt, relax your breathing, chat with someone or put on headphones and let the music calm you down.

When a delay happens and you lose your mojo, it’s so important to regain your composure as quickly as possible.  Just because you’ve lost it, doesn’t mean the rest of the race will wait for you.

Here’s how you can get your mojo back

  • Refocus your mind on your task at hand – racing.
  • Repeating your mantra will calm you down.
  • Remind yourself that the delay is happening to everyone.
  • Reset your goals to reflect why the delay happened (weather delay, course delay, etc).
4 "R's" to racing under pressure
4 “R’s” to racing under pressure

Coach Marc raced this weekend – the Valenzano Winery 5k – which was part road race, part cross country.  It offered the best of both: closed roads for faster running and hills and trails for technical running.  And yes, there was a delay.  The reason for our delay was that the police hadn’t come to close off the road.  It was a nuisance, but I didn’t let it bother me (see reasons above) for how I kept calm and relaxed while everyone else got stiff from standing still.

Marc won the race in 17:18 despite slowing down considerably for a cramp in his chest.  There’s no doubt that the 38 minute delay caused this cramp, but when I reset my goals to reflect the delay, I kept a positive mindset and focused on my mantra for the day: “quick and smooth”.  When I focused on my mantra, I was able to get rid of the cramp within 1 minute of it starting.  I cruised through the finish line, changed clothes and got a good 2 mile cool down in.

When a race delay (or a change of plans) happens, what you do to stay calm and refocus makes all the difference in the world.  I easily could have let the long delay alter my race, but I kept calm and focused on my one real goal: winning the race.  Race results can be found here

For more tips on how to race, check out these stories: Ways to make a 5k feel easier, Running workout for faster 5k’s, 4 reasons to race shorter distances.
To have Marc coach you during your next training cycle, contact Marc.

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