Race-Day Tactics For Your First Half Marathon

by | Sep 2, 2022 | Technical Articles

Achieve all your half marathon goals with our race day strategies

Not long to go until the 2022 Windsor Half Marathon. You’ve completed your training plan, kept injures at bay, and fuelled your body well. But there’s one last thing you can do to ensure you have an amazing experience at the Windsor Half.

Here are 7 race day tactics you can adopt that might help you run faster, maintain a good pace, and hit your goal finish time.


This might sound a bit “woo” but it really works. Use the week leading up to your half marathon to conjure up vivid mental images of a positive race. Do this when you can sit somewhere quiet, without distraction. Imagine how it would feel to run well and finish strong. Think about all five senses. Once the image is clear in your mind, you can call it up during the day to embed the feelings.

Positive self-talk

Banish any negative thoughts in the final week! Any time you catch yourself thinking or saying something derogatory about yourself, your running experience, your body or your training, counter it with a positive replacement. It will feel false at first, but your brain will soon tap into the positive self-talk.

Race-day mantras

Come up with 3 or 4 short mantras you can repeat to yourself on race day and as you are running. Make these meaningful and powerful to you. They might be “I am prepared”, or “I am a strong runner” or “I love running and it brings me joy”. Whatever works for you.

Break the race into stages

Thinking about 13.1 miles in one go might seem daunting. So break the race into chunks so you can plan your strategy. You could choose to do this in distance chunks (every 2 miles, for example). Or make this strategy bespoke to each race (for the Windsor Half, that might look like: circuit 1, 6-8 miles, to the next drink station, past the York Club, final 2 miles, and final 0.1 mile kick.

Get pulled along by others

There are a few mental techniques you can use to be “pulled along” by other runners. Imagine being tied to them by an imaginary rope around their waist, which will allow you to benefit from their steady pace and reliable stride. Or imagine there is a slipstream coming off each runner and that you can get pulled along by this for 20-30 seconds at a time.

The surge strategy

If you feel your race pace dropping, use the tactic of surges to bring your pace back up. This is beneficial both mentally and physically (dropping off the pace can be pretty demoralising). All you have to do is pick up the pace for 60-90 seconds and then allow yourself to settle back into a sustainable stride.


This might sound counterintuitive but it really works. If you want to speed up down the finish line – or pick up the pace at any point – remember to do it in a relaxed and controlled way. Rather than sprinting hard, think about opening up your stride and swinging your arms steadily. Keep your face relaxed, your stride long, and your form strong.

Good luck and have a fantastic race. We’ll be there to cheer you on!