Bart Yasso is the Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World Magazine and author of the new book Race Everything -How to Conquer Any Race at Any Distance.
He will retire from Runner’s World this December after 30 years at the magazine. As Chief Running Officer he travelled to 45-50 race events per year and has personally completed over 1,000 races!
In this episode’s quick tip segment, Coach Angie answers a listener question about how to decrease pre-race anxiety.
Interview with Bart YassoBart’s first book My Life On The Run was the first running related book I read soon after I started training for my first race.
He was the first high-profile expert we interviewed on the MTA podcast after we launched the show in 2010.
I kicked off our conversation by asking him about the Badwater 146 which he ran in 1989, back when the race only had 7 runners. Bart was the only one at Runner’s World crazy enough to attempt it.
In our 45 minute conversation you will also hear . . .
- Top picks (though it’s hard to choose) for 5k and 10k races
- Tips for half marathon training
- Running according to feel
- What to do if you feel like crap on race day
- Having to DNF a race and how to pick yourself back up
- Tips for racing the New York City Marathon
- The Runner’s World Half Marathon festival
- Why Bart loves the running community
Dealing with Pre-Race Anxiety
Here is a question we received from a listener named Eli.
I really enjoyed the latest recap of the Munich Marathon. I had a question that I thought might make for a good quick tip. I completed my first marathon – Chicago – last weekend. I was thrilled to complete the marathon with a smile, but my performance was not nearly as good as my training runs leading up to race day. As I analyzed my data, I noticed that my heart rate was 15-20 bpm higher than the same pace in training runs, and that started from the first mile. My resting heart rate and recovery runs have been back to normal since then so I’m guessing that could be attributed to nerves and excitement. Are there strategies to make race day feel more like a regular run? -Eli
Great question about the correlation between your heart rate and performance during the race. Many, many runners (most, in fact) find that they notice a higher heart rate during races and this can lead to pacing challenges and more fatigue.
Much of this phenomena is due to higher anxiety levels going into the race. Things like subpar sleep the night before, navigating pre-race logistics, too much caffeine, crowds of people, worries about performance, and the generalized excitement in the starting corrals and beyond can account for the body feeling more tense and high strung than normal.
Some runners find that big city races simply add too much stress to the experience and prefer smaller to mid-sized marathons. The easier logistics and fewer runners help them settle in easier and have a better performance. Another factor that can lead to a higher heart rate is warmer running conditions which frequently happens at the Chicago Marathon.
Most of us develop a long run routine during training so it’s easier to settle in during those runs and have lower stress levels. As you run more marathons your body should start to settle down a bit on race day. But it’s helpful to work on positive (and calming) mantras that you repeat before each long run and race.
Some runners find that doing some meditation on race morning helps their physiological and mental state. Sticking as close as you can to your sleeping and eating routines can also help along with laying out everything you’ll need for the race the night before.
I also find that building in extra time to get to the race decreases my stress level. Then when you’re in the corral try to focus on your positive mantras, breathe deeply, and don’t think too far ahead. A race can only be run one step at a time.
Also Mentioned in This Episode
Bart’s book Race Everything -How to Conquer Any Race at Any Distance. The book cover is a photo of Bart’s office door.
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Congratulations to MTA coaching client Judith Dahl who ran the Amsterdam Marathon recently. Despite struggling with cramping during the race she was able to finish with a 5 minute PR!
Huge thanks to MTA Coach Steven Waldon who has been a big support this training cycle. I never would have managed to collect myself in the midst of my struggles and finish strong without the solid training plan. -Judith