…literally and philosophically.
When I ran cross country in High School one of the things we always had to do, without fail, was walk the course before the start of the race. Today it hit me, in HS I just thought it was part of our torture, part of the ploy to make teenagers suffer, get up earlier than necessary, and to warm up. But today, I realized the true importance of walking the course before you run it in a race. I have my neighborhood figured out, already. It’s not hard when you can only squeeze 3.64 miles out of it by hitting every cul-de-sac and street. But it has some nice little inclines and declines. When I was running with the Hubs, the time I ran as fast as I could (HERE), I decided to use the hills to my advantage. I new where to turn around and how to use the downhills to bring my pace down, and where the incline was and how long that hill was and just how to run it so that I could use it all to my advantage.
Sure I have driven courses before but really that was just so that I could see it and get a feel for it, but never to study it. To analyze it. To create a plan of attack. To strategize! Now I don’t really think I would truly study 26.2 miles and try to optimize the up and downhills. Lets be honest, I am just trying to survive. But for 13.1 or less I think knowing the course is crucial, critical to doing your best (I am sure it is for a race of any distance but I am just not there yet for longer race strategizing) ! I have never looked at a course map before a race, except to see the over all elevation or over view of the ups and downs, but I have never looked at it and thought about how I would use the downs or prepare for the ups. I never really thought about it. All I knew was that there was a 1 in a jillion chance I would be first and leading the pack, so I didn’t need to know the route. But now, now I know better. It is more that leading the pack, it is about using every inch of a course to your advantage! I am so ready to begin racing shorter races and improve my overall racing strategies, fitness and pace. But for now I will study the 26.2 miles that is the Vegas course. Let’s see if it helps.
As for knowing your course philosophically, what is your course? Where are you headed? Where has your running taken you in 2010? Where will it take you 2011? What has it pulled you out of or gotten you into? For me, when I think of my course I envision a nice sail boat on the open water, going wherever it is the wind takes me. I can put my sails up or take them down…I can drop my anchor or I can follow a set course…
image taken from HERE