Before the joy of the holiday season is upon us I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the sneakier side of racing. People have criticized and even mocked me for some of my racing tactics. But rest assured they are legal and will reap rewards in competition. Some of these maneuvers have even been employed by Olympic athletes this year in London. Remember, nothing else matters except who crosses the finish line first. Let’s get started!
Shadowing – When attempting to pass another racer of similar speed, it can be to your advantage to run as closely as possible to this person. From either side or behind will work. The object is to distract him/her long enough to blow their concentration. This can be very effective in short distance races such as 5 and 10K’s. Take care that you do not run too close and cause a safety issue for yourself and anyone else in the vicinity. This method was very useful this past weekend in my 10 mile trail run. The recipient of my aggression was somewhat displeased, but I did win the battle.
Blocking - Intentional or not, it’s been done to all of us at some point in a race. If you’ve been running steadily but find the need to reduce your pace temporarily to recover, it is advisable to take the opportunity when passing someone slightly slower. Briefly adopt their stride and run side by side until you are ready to resume your previous speed. This will create a temporary “wall” for anyone behind you, causing them to have to run very wide and burn precious energy. This trick comes with a risk. If you hang around too long some of the more aggressive runners will shove you to the side as they push their way between the two of you. The more patient runners will wait for a better opportunity to pass and your objective will have been met. They have stayed in your rear view mirror until you have had a chance to catch your breath and leave them in the dust. The victim may get a brief break as well but the benefit is lessened since it was not at a time of their choosing.
Elbow/Shove – Many times at the start of a race, while trying to grab a position, someone will pull up their elbows and aim them at your ribs. If you closely watched the men’s 10,000 meter event during the Olympics this year, there were some perfect examples of this tactic. I have used it occasionally going into a turn or blasting my way through two people who later admitted they were blocking me. Try not to take offense when this happens, it’s part of racing and it may be me doing it.
Splash n’ Dash - This method is hit or miss literally. What I like to do at a water station is to grab a cup of water, pour it over my head to cool off, crumble the cup and throw it down behind me but at the feet of the runner behind me. This provides a very small distraction but it’s better than nothing. You have the cup in your hand anyway, why not try to get a little more benefit from it? I have witnessed others tossing the cup in the same manner as me but leaving a bit of water inside as to cause a splash when it hits the ground.
Stutter Step - If someone has really been giving you a hard time and you just can’t shake them from your six, you may want to resort to this malicious maneuver. Try to get a SLIGHT lead on said annoyance going into a turn. Once the runner falls in behind you, bring your stride down drastically for a split second and hope they don’t run into the back of you. I have made the very few people I have used this on pretty mad but it blows their concentration and rhythm enough that they were no longer a factor in the race. Be careful because this must be done perfectly or you will cause a crash, but when executed correctly it is very effective. If you ask me, it’s their fault if they run into you. What happens when someone stops short in traffic and gets rear ended? The person driving the rear car gets the ticket for following to closely. Enough said.
Splashing - This is one of my favorites. Rainy, snowy and all around sloppy days are required to pull this one off. It’s simple, yet effective. While running a race most people will choose to go around puddles and generally sloppy areas. Check the conditions before the race and lace up one of your more unfavorite pair of running shoes. If there are runners along side or behind you, aim right for that puddle and don’t pull back on your stride. Depending on the depth, I have emerged on the other side with relatively dry shoes because when your foot hits the water or slush with force, there is a split second where the liquid is displaced and does not rush back in enough time to soak your feet. Instead it does splash up the legs of your competitors. He he.
Gassing - Here’s a fun one that I have witnessed but never attempted and works for men and women alike. If you are a woman, buy the cheapest, foul smelling “perfume” you can find and then proceed to apply it in excess. Most runners are too polite to say anything prior to the start but they will surely understand your objective when the race starts and you are leaving a putrid wake vile enough to gag anyone who dares run behind you. Most race courses are narrow enough that when the smell can’t be avoided, they will back off. Now you just have to worry about who’s ahead of you. Men, ours is a little harder to pull off. Wear a shirt that you race in over and over without washing it. By the time you hit four or five races and this sweat soaked shirt has been kicking around in your trunk, the smell will be bad enough to wave off even the strongest of runners. Smell is the most powerful sense human beings have. Why not use it to your advantage?
Run for fun and race to place everyone!© Copyright 2012 The Hornet, All rights Reserved. Written For: Adventures In Running