Racing in bad conditions

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Mudder’s race

What do you do when you wake up on race morning and it’s incredibly windy? Or raining? Or cold? Or cold and snowing?

I hope you adjust your race plan accordingly (if you didn’t already know this weather was coming and make those adjustments). Then I hope you embrace the elements.

I got thinking about this topic this past weekend when I was at the WIAC Cross Country Championships at a soggy Lake Breeze Golf Course just outside of Oshkosh. It wasn’t too cold and the rain/drizzle was pretty light but it had been a wet week leading up to race day and the course was saturated. The high spots were like a wet sponge and any low spot, no matter how minor, had standing water. It was a mudder’s race.

I was talking with someone at the meet about the conditions and said I liked these conditions when I was running cross country. I was not a mudder. I was too light and too much of a rhythm runner for a muddy course to not slow me down but I told myself everyone has to face the conditions. A lot of guys are psyching themselves out over the conditions and those are guys who I have the opportunity to beat because I’m preparing to deal with it and just run my best.

Of course you have to adjust your race plan accordingly. When I ran the Lakefront Marathon in 2002, there were some runners who didn’t adjust their plans. The wind beat them down and I made easy work of guys I had no reason to think I would be anywhere near on an ordinary day.

Once you adjust your plan, though, embrace the elements. Have fun with them. If you have your plan down and are ready to execute, you can enjoy the elements. Be a kid splashing through the mud puddles. Think of how great the stories of overcoming the heat, cold, wind or whatever else you’re facing will be once it’s over. Make a snow angel at the start line (I guarantee this will help you psych out some of your competitors while keeping yourself relaxed).

Whatever you do, don’t let the elements get to you. If you convince yourself that the elements will cause you to fail, you do nothing but ensure that you will be right.

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