TIPS For When Your Race Day Form Falls Apart

Coach Maleia goes in depth on “If your form starts to fall apart during a race”. Check out her  great list of tips and put them in your race day “back pocket”.

“When I was running a 50k in January, there was a specific spot on the course that my hip and ITband would start to flare up a little.  It was around mile 4.5 on the loop course.  I was running down a double track sand and gravel road into the wind. It was really messing with my form and each time I would come to this spot on the course I had to fix it.  How did I do this? I developed a mental checklist that I’d say to myself when I felt like my form was falling apart and I was getting tired.”

What did I do to practice my form and how did I improve it?

  • Video analysis
  • Form Drills
  • Strength training
  • Running with intension and thinking about my form
  • Coming up with a checklist I could use when running
  • Practice, practice, practice

This is the checklist I used during that race and would highly recommend for when you feel your form starting to fall apart:

  1. Where are my eyes focused, where am I looking? A natural glance forward is ideal.  Try not to look down!
  2. Are my shoulders back, down, and relaxed? The more tired you get, the more you will notice your shoulders tensing up towards your ears.
  3. Are my arms bent and elbows back, and hands relaxed? If your thumbs are able to brush the tips of your hips, then they are in a good position.  If your arms look like bird wings, you need to get your elbows back so you stop rotating the torso. Also relax those hands!!!!! You’re just wasting energy if you have tension there.
  4. Am I lifting from the hips? If you are lifting from the hips you are engaging your glutes and core… which will create balance and drive! NOTE: if you have weaknesses in these areas, strength training must be done to fix those weaknesses so that you are capable of running tall and strong.
  5. Am I leaning forward? Not from the waist but from the ankles. Make sure you are using gravity to your advantage and leaning forward from the ankle.  Almost like you’re falling forward.
  6. Are my ankles relaxed?  When you lift from the hips your foot should naturally point slightly down and be relaxed when they contact the ground.
  7. Can I see my feet? If you have correctly fixed all of the above, then you should not be able to see your feet when running.
  8. Can I hear my feet? If you have correctly fixed all of the above, then you should not be able to hear your feet hit the pavement. (OK…. its impossible to not hear your feet at all, but it should be quite enough that you could run up behind someone and get within a few feet of them before they hear you).

Hope these few tips will help you come up with your own race day checklist that you can say to yourself when you feel tired and out of form.  Good Luck at your next great race!

Coach Maleia