A shiny new personal best is the Holy Grail for most runners, but what if race day arrives and you're just not feeling it?
Whether it's because of tough weather conditions or training that didn't go according to plan, sometimes a PR just isn't in the cards. Luckily race day can be about more than just numbers on a clock; the next time you toe the line, consider one of these non-PR race day goals.
Nail the Negative Split1 of 9
In runner speak this means you'll run the second half of the race faster than the first half. If you're feeling a little unsure about your fitness, finishing fast can be a great way to boost confidence. Aim to run the first couple of miles about a minute per mile slower than PR pace and as the race progresses, start speeding up. If you're feeling good, try to finish the second half of the race at PR pace.
Become a Fueling Pro2 of 9
If you've hit the wall or had stomach upset in the past, now's the time to figure out what works and what doesn't. Use the water stations to perfect the cup grab and practice opening and eating your fuel of choice. Without the pressure of a PR attempt, you'll have a bit more flexibility with your fueling strategy. If you've always wanted to experiment with something new—like honey, maple syrup or a new brand of gel—now's your chance.
Run the Tangents Like a Boss3 of 9
Ever finish a race, look at your GPS watch and see a distance that's longer than expected? Unfortunately, that half marathon probably wasn't 13.4 miles; you just didn't run the tangents. This simply means covering the shortest legal race distance. In layman's terms, it means you didn't do a lot of weaving. For example, if the course features a series of S-turns, aim to run in a straight line from curve to curve, rather than weaving and snaking through them. This can be tough if the race is crowded, but since you won't be shooting for a PR, you can focus less on pace and more on tangent strategy.
Be a Rabbit4 of 9
Do you have a slower friend who's looking to run a certain time? Pacing him or her to a PR can be incredibly rewarding (and fun). If you plan on keeping a pal company during a race, be sure to discuss logistics ahead of time. Will you talk or listen to music? Run negative splits or evenly? Playing "coach" during the race can be a great way to help a running buddy reach their goal.
Soak Up the Scenery5 of 9
Running a particularly beautiful or iconic course? Ignore the race clock and make it your goal to high five and smile your way to the finish. And if the course features breathtaking views, now's the time to snap something worthy of Instagram!
Make It a Tune-Up Race6 of 9
If you're training for a longer race like a marathon, running a shorter race a few weeks out is a great way to practice pacing. About a month before you tackle 26.2 miles, run a half marathon at marathon pace. Or a few weeks out from a half marathon, tackle a 10K at your 13.1-mile goal pace. This is also a good time to test out your race day outfit and fuel.
Run Naked7 of 9
Nope, were not talking about nude races. This goal has to do with running by feel. If you're addicted to your GPS watch or app, a low-key race is a great opportunity to cover up the screen and run purely by effort. Who knows, taking the pressure off might lead you to run even faster than you thought possible!
Practice Positivity8 of 9
Even if you're not gunning for a PR, racing is still hard work, and it's easy for negative thoughts to creep in. Make it your goal to practice positive self-talk from start to finish. When the going gets tough, remind yourself that you're strong and capable of fighting through difficult stretches.