Racing Strategies

Racing Strategies

While there are many racing strategies on the internet, here are some of the best racing strategies for all kinds of runners.

Difference Between Distance and Sprint runners

Before going into the strategies of running we first need to go over the  basic differences between distance and sprint runners. Now mentally these runners might be the exact same but when it comes the the physical portion of running there is a big difference. first looks, long distance runners almost always have a lean body shape and low body fat percentages so that their bodies do not get to so tired while running because they are carrying around a proportionately high amount of less weight. But on the flip side, sprinters and have a really powerful build with lots of elastic muscle to help them be explosive off the line. For sprinters there is not a need to be slim because they are not going long distances. How to know if you are a sprinter or a long distance runner is really is by knowing if you are running anything less than 800 meters are generally sprints, and anything 800 meters or longer is generally classified as a long distance race. Another biomechanics difference between sprinters and long distance runners is their running gait cycles. When you are sprinting, your stance phase of your cycle is generally much shorter than the stance phase of a long distance runner. To learn more about the running gait cycle click here.

Sprinter Racing Strategies

Short Sprinters

When it comes to sprinters it is generally very easy to find out your racing strategy. According to real world physics problems they state that a sprinter that is running 291 meters or less they should accelerate to their top speed and hold that speed for the whole entire race. The biggest goal when running these short sprint races is to get your stance phase of your running gait cycle down to as small amount of time as possible. One of the best ways to train your body to bounce of the ground the fastest is by warming up with A, B, and C skips. The goal of these exercises is to bounce off the ground as fast as possible, training yourself to habitually shorten that stance phase the as fast as you can.

General spring speed model
Long Sprinters

When you start getting past the short sprinter distances it starts to get a little harder to find the best racing strategy. But for the 400 meter race The best strategy for a long sprinter, according to Wayde Van Niekerk, is to start off the first 100 meters you should be building up your speed, after this between the 100-200 meter you should speed up your pace, this is usually where racers get to their top speed. From the 200-400 meter section usually your body starts slowing down but you still need to stay as fast as you can go. The graph below shows the world record holder and his 100 meter splits.

Long Distance Running

The difference between long and short distance is a substantial amount. The main difference between the two is that long distance is it is more aerobic, meaning that it involves oxygen. On the other side short distances are anaerobic which means less oxygen. This plays a big part in how your body uses its energy and how you need to pace yourself in the race. 


Pacing is a big part when it comes to racing strategies in long distances. From what I have found from my years of running and researching online I have found that the best pacing strategy is to run it out and have a even pace all the way until the end and have a really fast finish. However there are times when a runner should change their pace in a race to either pass someone or leave someone behind. Another big factor is pace changing is inclines and declines in the race. As you may have realized, running down hill is much easier than running up. With this being said, if you are pacing yourself to not overhaul up long hills, you have more energy to have a steady, but faster, pace down the hill while you are regaining your breath. It is recommended though that if the hill is not long (generally less than 25 meters) it is advised to use more energy up that hill. This is recommend because you are using that energy that others aren’t to get up the hill, which in means you are passing other. This energy that is expelled during this up hill will be less taxing than having to pass someone in a regular part of the race.

Group Running and positioning

When it comes to groups in running it is important to first start by finding a group of people that is the same speed. Group running can be very beneficial in many ways if you do it right. Generally, you will get more benefit out of group running in practices, but there are sometime that group running is greatly beneficial in races. The biggest benefits of group running is having people that are pacing you, and can keep the same pace the entire run. When you are at practice and running with teammates it becomes more of a good distraction than just focusing on the run. While in race though, these group runs can be used for a distraction but can also be used as a push to run faster. For group pacing to have a good impact in the race, the runner needs to up-pace him/herself so that they are in a sense pushing themselves past their limit. By finding the perfect up-pace you are able to push your body to the edge of your ability and not let yourself relax as much as you would running by yourself. Group running is a great resource for runners to use as long as you are using this strategy correctly.


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