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Another one of my running goals for the year is to actually RACE a few races. My question is this: From what I understand, people don't usually train at their race pace. How do you know you're not going to completely crash and burn in the middle of your race? I'm talking 5K, 5 milers, and 10Ks, here, not half and full marathons. Have you ever crashed and burned in the middle of a race?

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Who hasn't? It comes with the territory and is part of the learning process.
Pacing your first race in an inexact science. Your training runs will give you a guide. What pace do you normally do on a daily run? I would suggest starting at about that pace...maybe a bit faster (5-10 seconds a mile). In your first race, it is better to start too slowly and have too much left than to start too fast and crash. Then, next time, you'll know to go out a bit faster.
I suggest that all runners (even those who don't consider themselves competitors) enter races from time to time. It gives a focus to your running that can get you out the door on those tough days. It also introduces you to an incredible support network of friends who will encourage you and your goals (and maybe even become training partners). You may just find that racing is addicting.
Also...never say never about marathons. After racing for a year or two, you might just decide you want to give it a shot.
If you have any further questions about racing, post away. I'm no elite (or even close to it), but I've been running for almost 15 years and my lifetime race count is well into the hundreds.
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Races can be really fun, whether you just want to do it to let lose some of your competiveness, or if you are running for an actual goal.

To answer your question about burning out in the middle of the race, if you are doing a race 10K or less you could include 1 or 2 time trials in your training before the race, so you know what to expect. However, even if you don't, you shouldn't worry at all what you do on your first race. Run it, have fun. If you want to set a goal from there, do it. If you dont' want to, just keep signing up for them every so often to enjoy the event.

To borrow the Nike slogan - Just do it! 8)
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Thanks for the replies - I'll keep the time trial thing in mind.

To clarify - I have run in races before, and enjoyed them, but never really raced them. In other words, I ran at my training pace, so it ended up being a long run with people giving me water. I've never really pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and that's something I'm interested in doing this time around. I'm...just kind of afraid to, I guess. :|
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Don't be afraid of runing out of your comfort zone, trust me. Once you do it the first time, it gets a lot easier. Plus, there's noth8ing like the feeling you gave it your all after each race.
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Getting out of that comfort zone is what makes it a race to me. One thing that I like to do is to finish up my daily run by going at a "race pace" for the last 1/2, 1/4 or even 1/8 of a mile. Not every day but a couple of times a week - get your body used to pushing it's limit.
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Racing is the cream on the cake, it's what makes all the training worthwhile.
I'll tell you and I'm sure there are others here who would tell you that there is no better feeling than crossing the line and knowing in your heart of hearts that YOU tried YOUR very best and have given the race everything.
Your selling yourself short RLAG if you just run along in a race, as an old coach I used to know would say..... "you only ever grow as a human being if you are outside your comfort zone"
On a personal level. Yes I blew up in plenty of races and either jogged or walked over the line, but it was a learning experience and came back wiser for the experience each time (Read MM's reply on pacing)
Good advise everyone !!!
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I just want to say that I'd much rather burnout 2/3 through a race than finish with too much energy.
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Thanks for the insight - I'm signed up for a 5 miler at the end of March, so perhaps I'll give it a try.

This will be an interesting experiment, actually. As I mentioned before, I've never really trained to race anything, more just to finish. Too much Penguin and similarly motivated training partners, perhaps. Not that there's anything wrong with that approach and viewpoint, but I think that's a large part of the reason I stopped running - it didn't feel like there was any satisfaction. Participation alone just doesn't suit me, I guess. :shrug:
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me too. crashing at mile 1 of 10k is not fun, though. I like to say this happened in one of my first 10ks, but I'd be lying. I'd like to say it never happened again. :umno:
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I started off way too fast in 5K---less than 6 minutes in the first mile, and I'm just under 7 minute-mile pace, anyway, I survived the remaining 2.1, and with a pretty good time. It didn't hurt too bad.

I think I know what you are getting at. How do you know what your race pace is? I had no clue about pacing when I first started running, so I used a heart monitor, then bought a GPS. I could track my heart with speed it was an invaluable tool for my training. Now I don't need it because I know my paces.

If you are worried about burning out in a race, get a heart monitor, train with it, then when you race, peg your heart rate at your max, it make take a mile for it get there, then in the last 1/2 mile, go for broke!
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