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Race Strategy 101: How to Plan Tune-up Races, Line up in the Corral, and Estimate Your Finish Times

Last year when I met Shalane Flanagan, I was impressed by three things:

  • Her undying passion and love for running
  • Her friendliness and willingness to cheer everyone on at races
  • Her cold, emotionless race strategy that makes me secretly think she’s a robot

Ok, Shalane isn’t really a robot. But her mentality on race day is all business: the mantra she uses to run her best race is “cold execution.” You won’t see her smiling like this:

Jason and Shalane

And you know what? I LOVE her approach to races. If you’re not running for fun and you’re attempting to reach a time goal (or win the race like Shalane), your race strategy is critical.

But unfortunately, race strategy is an often overlooked part of running your best race (make sure you download the Race Tips ebook for 13 free racing strategies).

Yes, training is critical and even more important than strategy. But the approach you take to maximize your chances of running a personal best can stack the odds in your favor.

So Episode 8 of Q&A with Coach is dedicated to racing.

Q&A with Coach Episode 8: Race Strategy Edition

Today’s show focuses on the strategic aspects of racing:

1. Learn how to schedule shorter races during marathon training so you can peak at the right time (and avoid burnout)

2. Line up in the corral correctly so you’re not stuck behind slower runners – plus, learn where in the corral is the least congestion.

3. Estimate your finish times accurately so you can plan your race pacing: racing vs. workouts.

Here’s the video:

Notes from the show:

  • :45 – How to use shorter races before a marathon
  • 2:40 – How to avoid burning out and peaking early during marathon training
  • 4:25 – Jason does mental math; barely succeeds
  • 5:10 – How to line up in the corral
  • 7:20 – Gun time vs. Chip time and why it matters
  • 8:25 – Jason uses the best pun ever. Prepare yourself.
  • 9:10 – How to set realistic goal times
  • 11:45 – Why you can run a lot of races when they’re short
  • 12:40 – The 2nd best way to estimate race finish times

Want me to answer your question? Just tweet it to me with the hashtag #RunQuestion or simply email me at

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