How to finish running your hardest race

My worst race to date was Nike Toronto 15K back in June 2015. Sometimes I wonder how I ever completed it if it wasn’t for my best friend who literally held my hand and dragged me to the finish line.


Not long ago, I finished Rock’n’Roll San Diego which I want to say was my second hardest race and I finished it all on my own…kinda sorta.

Before I hop into the how, let me give you some context. Here were my pre-race conditions.

  • I was on US soil for less than a week after working in Brazil for a month. I barely recovered from jet lag.
  • I ate little carbs (less than 25g) the week of the race and carb loaded only the day before.
  • My longest run was 3 miles on a treadmill.
  • I worked out 3x weekly prior to race but no cardio.
  • I was not confident mentally going into the race but attempted to run anyway because I didn’t want to be a quitter.

How to finish your hardest race running alone:

  1. Always put one foot in front of the other. It’s a no brainer but the reminder is important. You’ll feel like you want to stop but at least keep moving forward.
  2. Go at your own pace. No one matters at this point but you. Walk if you need to. Reduce your pace. Do whatever is necessary to continue doing #1.
  3. Set small goals. Run/jog a few blocks before allowing yourself to walk. You can also set timers or use music. Find a person running at a similar pace and try to keep with them for as long as possible.
  4. Text a friend. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to. It’s okay to pull out your phone and seek support from a friend. Simples words of encouragement can get you through the next few miles.
  5. Hydrate and fuel. Don’t allow yourself to skip these during the course. It’s crucial.

What I wish I did:

  • Consistent training – doesn’t need to be intense just consistent and appropriate.
  • Normal diet – don’t switch this up before a race. It can affect your body.
  • Be more confident in your body – it’s capable of more than you think.

Have you ran a difficult race? How did you get through it? Was there a time you had to quit? How did it feel?

Photos by Brian Wong.

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