Race Analysis

Have you ever run the perfect race? If so, perhaps you could do it again if you were able to capture how you prepared and how you ran the race. For all of your less-than-perfect races, it is useful to write down what errors you made and how you could do better next time. Too often during our racing careers, we make the same mistakes again and again. We all know the obvious cases, such as the runner who always starts too fast and “blows up.” But, there are many more subtle racing errors that may not be obvious until you analyze your races. Perhaps you don’t give yourself time to warm-up properly, or you let your concentration ease during the middle miles of races.

The questions below are designed to help you analyze your racing performances to identify ways to improve in future races. There are 32 questions grouped into six sections. These questions are just a start, and some are no doubt more relevant for you personally than others. You may want to develop additional questions that are specific to your situation. Of course, this method will not guarantee that you always run the perfect race. Over time, you will no doubt make new mistakes. Analyzing your races should, however, help you to recognize areas for improvement and to gradually improve your performances.

Your race preparation:

These questions ask about your fitness and how you tapered your training for the race. Your preparation during the last few weeks before a race largely determines your racing performance, and your taper determines how well rested you are on race day. By reviewing your preparation, you will gain insight into the types of training that are most effective for you and how many races you need before you race your best.

  • What other races have you done in the past 6 weeks, and what were your results?

  • How has your training gone during the past 6 weeks?

  • What did you do for training during the week before this race?

  • How could you improve your tapering?


Before the race:

What you eat and drink the morning of the race and how you warm-up are important factors in your racing performance. Runners often compromise their performances by eating too much or too little, or by doing an incomplete warm-up. By reviewing what you do before the race, you can fine-tune your pre-race routine.

  • What, and how much, did you eat and drink before the race?

  • When did you eat and drink before the race?

  • How long before the start did you arrive at the race?

  • How long before the race did you start your warm-up?

  • What did you do for your warm-up?

  • How long before the race did you complete your warm-up?

  • How could you improve your warm-up?

The first mile (or first km):

Many runners start off too fast and pay the price during the rest of a race. Others start off too conservatively and never give themselves a chance to reach their potential. Recalling your first mile (or however long it takes to settle into the race) will help make sure that you get it right next time.

  • How fast did you run the first mile?

  • Did you feel completely warmed-up when the gun fired?

  • Did you start too fast, too slow, or about right?

The rest of the race:

Regardless of the length of the race, some runners have trouble maintaining their concentration. Other runners have difficulty with specific aspects of racing such as up-hills or down-hills. The following questions should prompt you to remember what happened during the heat of battle so you can work on your weaknesses for the next race.

  • How was your pace judgment during the race?

  • Were you able to maintain your effort during the middle of the race?

  • Did you run strongly up the hills?

  • Did you pass other runners on the down-hills?

  • Were you able to maintain or pick up your pace at the end of the race?

  • How was your concentration during the race?

  • Which factors could you improve?

After the race:

Besides recording your finish time and place, think through how you could race better on this course or at this distance next time. If you met your pre-race goals, what were the factors that led to your success? If you did not achieve your goals, try to identify what factors stood in your way.

  • What were your time and place?

  • Did you meet your goals for the race?

  • How could you improve your racing performance?

  • What shoes and clothes did you wear?

  • What did you do for your cool-down?

About the race:

You may want to run this race again, or may encounter similar courses or weather conditions at other races. A thorough description of the course will remind you of important details for future years. Other details will help you decide whether to return next year.

  • Describe the course (hills, road surface, footing, turns, etc.)

  • What time did the race start?

  • How many runners were in the race?

  • What was the competition like?

  • How was the weather (temperature, humidity, precipitation and wind)?

  • Would you do this race again next year?


Related articles:
How to plan your racing schedule, tapering

Text copyright © by Pete Pfitzinger
Pete Pfitzinger is an exercise physiologist with over 20 years of coaching experience, Pete adheres to the principle that every runner is unique and that training programs must be tailored to the athlete's individual strengths and weaknesses. 

Pete Pfitzinger is co-author of two successful books:

Road Racing for Serious Runners
Road Racing for Serious Runners
Buy it here

Advanced Marathoning
Advanced Marathoning
Buy it here

This article has informational purpose and  isn't a substitute for professional advice.

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