Of course, we’re talking about the race course.
I had this conversation with a friend recently, and thought it would make an excellent blog post. We’re gonna talk about the pros and cons of knowing, or not knowing, exactly where you’re going during a race.
And by “knowing” I’m talking about instances where you’ve run the race before, or run a bulk of the course on past training runs. Or both!
And for the record. I’ll be running into this scenario on Saturday at the Music City Trail Ultra (more on that later this week).
The obvious advantage to having run a race course previously is that you know where you’re going. You don’t have to rely on other runners, misinformed volunteers or signs, or a lead bike that goes astray.
You’re also not caught by surprise by a huge hill in the late stages of a marathon. Or any race for that matter.
The cons are, of course, that you know what’s coming. Hilly course? You know what awaits you. A specific point where you always seem to get tired? You know it’s right around the corner.
On a course you’re familiar with, it’s easy to psyche yourself out.
I feel like at this point, I should disclose that my 5k, 10k, and Half PRs are all on courses I had run previously. And even a section of the Twin Cities course I had run on.
Not knowing the course is basically the polar opposite.
The big advantage is, in my opinion, that you don’t know what’s coming. And sometimes, ignorance can be bliss.
One of my running mentors always said he preferred to run on different courses because he liked to be surprised. And he knew where he started to tire on courses he ran a lot.
But obviously, when you don’t know the course, there can be some over thinking. You know there’s supposed to be a hill…somewhere. You feel like you should be turning soonish. It can take your mind away from racing.
This is actually a tough debate for me. I love running new places. But almost all of my best races are on familiar courses. What do you prefer?