Racing or just running the mile is a great event.
Here are some of my tips for getting the most out of your racing experience.
Warm up! Break a sweat: jog for several minutes, then do activation drills like high knees and skipping, ending with several good and fast strides. If all this seems foreign to you, a good hack is to simply jog the course (even 2 times for 2 miles is a good idea) and then jump rope for 3 x 30 secs to get your heart rate up. Go to the starting line primed for action!
Mentally prepare. Know that the mile is an adrenaline pumping, muscle burning, long (almost) sprint. You will be uncomfortable, but that means you are pushing yourself and are on your way to a satisfying race.
Shoot for a negative split. This means you run the second half of the race faster than the first. This is VERY tricky to do, but certainly not impossible. For most of us, this means you need to run smart in the beginning half and then you need to tell yourself to switch gears and then follow through in the second half. No need to "save" anything for the end. Decide that you will have a kick and go for it!
Find a balance between racing people around you and running confidently your own race. People around you are great to help keep you focused and push you to a faster time, but be careful not to get in over your head. A common saying in coaching is that "no race is won in the first minute, but many are lost in that first minute". Meaning that if you go into extreme oxygen debt and start producing lactic acid too early, your last few minutes will be very painful!
Decide to have fun. Even if you race a mile in 10 minutes, you are running faster than you hardly ever do and the feeling of moving fast under your own power is thrilling! Soak it up, remember to breathe, and run through the finish line (slowing down even slightly at the end will cost you several precious seconds and give someone an opportunity to out kick you - not a good feeling!)
If you need some extra motivation, here is the American Women's Indoor Mile record being set two years ago at the Milrose Games in NYC by Elle Purrier.
Or this impressive and fun event:
If you are ready to give the mile race a try, please join me at the Post House San Marco Mile this Saturday in Jacksonville! There are heats for masters (40+), elite <6 mins, advanced (6-8min), and open divisions. Always a place for you on the starting line! This race is a flat out and back course with plenty of parking, and a block party afterwards!