A Breakdown of My First 10k Race

As I mentioned in my race recap post yesterday, my first official 10k race did not go the way I had planned. I ran a slower pace than I would have liked, slower than I know I’m capable of. Also, to be quite frank, I felt like crap for most of the race, which is no fun. I’ve spent a lot of time since Saturday thinking about where things went off the rails, so I decided to do a breakdown of what went right versus what went poorly, in the hopes that I can learn from my mistakes and hopefully do a better job of preparing myself next time.

What Went Right

  • Got plenty of sleep
  • My outfit was perfect for the weather and conditions

What Went Wrong

  • Huge helping of greasy, spicy nachos the night before
  • Didn’t eat enough pre-race
  • Should have brought a handheld water bottle or hydration belt–it was hot and humid
  • Should have had some kind of fuel mid-run, but I ran out of gels and chews recently and haven’t had a chance to buy more
  • My shakeout run the night before was way too fast, which may have tired out my legs

This was the most disappointing race I’ve had in a while. I’ve run virtual 10k races before, as well as 10k training runs, and I’ve finished all of them faster than I finished this race. It’s also really discouraging to feel like hell for 6.2 miles. I definitely need to get my weekend long runs up to 6 miles on the regular so that these middle distances don’t feel so long and awful.

I also need to come up with a pre-race plan/routine. More often than not, I just do what I feel like doing in the moment. I usually have oatmeal or a bagel before a race, but sometimes I mix it up and have cereal or eggs. I usually eat a healthy dinner the night before a race, but sometimes I have nachos, or a big greasy burger. My race performance is generally unpredictable as a result. Sometimes I feel amazing, and others, I feel like death. I’d be willing to bet that having a more consistent plan of attack will help me perform better.

Do you have a pre-race routine/ritual, or do you fly by the seat of your pants like me?

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27 thoughts on “A Breakdown of My First 10k Race

  1. pippalouisecalvin says:

    I really thought I had no pre-race ritual but it’s becoming clear that I like to:

    -Have Breakfast: porridge w. maple syrup, banana + misc other fruit
    -Have pre race snack: sesame snaps
    -Run very slowly to race HQ as a warm up.
    -Wear the same shoes. Always.

    Strange how that happens!

  2. veryrach says:

    When I played soccer in high school, our coach made us take a sports nutrition class so we could learn about the correct foods to eat the night before a game. All I remember is eating lots of spaghetti after that class lol. Spicy nachos would not sit well with me 😦

  3. grimmkitten11 says:

    I can see where spicy nachos would be a bit difficult on on run. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants too. I’ve eaten bagels and avocados (separate occasions) and it went well. Other things have went terribly wrong (orange juice the morning of the race =not a good idea.) Good luck finding what works for you!!

  4. prairieprincessrunners says:

    I don’t eat anything the morning of a race, maybe have half a cup of water. I don’t bring a fuel belt with me or any hydration. for a 10K, I just don’t eat any “extreme” foods…like nachos, curries, anything with varies from my normal food. I also, when doing longer races, try my best to avoid dairy for about 3 days prior to the race as dairy is always a potential problem for me.

    I think also training for longer distances…like 7-8 miles, will improve how you feel at the 10K mark.

    Finally, give yourself a bit of a break–it was hot you weren’t feeling too awesome…chalk it up to a bad day and hope for a better day next time. 🙂

  5. dgobs says:

    I hate feeling disappointed in a race performance, especially for one I was looking forward to. I’m sorry it didn’t go as well as you wanted 😦 I don’t have a set-in-stone pre-race routine, but I have a few general things I tend to do (bagel pre-race, no dodgy food the night before, etc.) but there have been more than a few times I’ve just winged it. I’m aiming to actually *race* races from now on, rather than just running them for yucks, so I’m guessing I’ll knuckle down a bit more routine-wise.

  6. charissarunning says:

    Sometimes it’s good to try to analyze the positives/negatives of your race to try to figure out what worked and what didn’t. It can definitely help sometimes, but also keep in mind bad races just happen even when you do everything right!! Even so, it’s best to be as prepared as possible! I typically do the same nutrition routine the night before/morning of a long race, but I change it up sometimes with a shorter race (ie. I don’t need as much fuel). For different distances your needs are different so it’s definitely good to recognize that!

    • DarlinRae says:

      You’re definitely right regarding bad races sometimes happening even when you do everything right, I’d just rather know that I’m doing everything in my power to make it a good experience.

  7. allisonfiorini says:

    I really, honestly think that the weather and combination of your diet was the issue. If it was humid, it’s so hard to stick to your “normal” pace – even training paces. But it’s so great that you are reflecting on it and using it as a learning experience – I still think you rocked it. I didn’t realize you never raced that distance before, so congrats! For 10Ks, I usually do a shakeout run the night before and mow some pizza. I eat a half of a bagel with almond butter and try to stomach about half of a banana (hate them, but they agree with me while running) before the race. I don’t warm up, unless it’s like a .25 mile jog. I try to keep it simple – mostly bland foods (though I suppose pizza isn’t really bland!) and adjust pacing for heat/humidity!

    • DarlinRae says:

      All really good thoughts, thank you! I love bagels for pre-race, but I don’t typically have them in the house, otherwise I’d eat them all the time 😉

  8. My For Real Life says:

    Ugh, I hate that we have to have races like this. I’ve only done one 10k (2 years ago) and thankfully it went well or I may not still be running 😉 However, I have had plenty of bad runs and races. It is good that you are learning from it though. I feel like my body performs best when I fuel properly, like you mentioned. I’m sure you will rock the next one!

  9. Anna @ Piper's Run says:

    No matter the distance I always eat a bagel with peanut butter, a banana and some juice before ll my races. Sometimes we just have to have bad races – it makes you stronger though it can take a while to believe that. Keep your head up and be proud you ran 🙂

  10. Fallon @ Slacker Runner says:

    I’ve finally figured out that less food before a race the better for me. So no pre-race breakfast and a very small dinner. I know that’s not normal though. There’s something about 10k’s that just makes them seem harder than they should be. Throw in humidity and that just makes it worse. Sorry it was rough but you still rocked it! And it was your first official 10K so congrats!

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