Q.

Mario, 

In bigger races I always find myself bobbing and weaving through other runners in the first mile and lose a lot of time. What can I do to combat this?

Thanks!

Lydia S. 

A.

Lydia,

Trying to find your rhythm in the early miles of a crowded race can not only be frustrating—but the constant starting, stopping and surging to find running room during the first mile or so can cost you valuable seconds or minutes by the time you reach the finish line. Aside from seeding yourself in the proper starting corral, the best thing you can do once you’re out on the course is exercise patience and find as straight a line as possible to run until the crowds start to thin out a mile or two into the race. Yes, this will likely mean that you’re a few seconds per mile slower than your goal pace to start, but in a longer race such as a half or full marathon you’ll be able to conserve energy until some running room opens up and you can find your stride. When you’re out on the course, plan ahead for high-traffic areas such as turns and water stops to avoid (or at least minimize) some of the inevitable congestion that takes place in those areas. Aggressively weaving through other runners to hit your goal split, especially early on in the race, will almost always come back to bite you in the final few miles when you’re trying to finish strong, but having a plan and conserving some energy early on will allow you to ratchet down the pace in pursuit of a new PR.

Go get it!

Mario

Ask Mario appears monthly in Competitor magazine and weekly on Competitor.com. Have a question for Mario? Submit it here.