At a recent local 5K I noticed many of the athletes were running what I would consider the longest race possible. Now, that sounds kind of silly because the course is the exact same for the winners as it is for the very last person crossing the finish line. But, the largest difference you will see between the top 10% of people finishing the race and the remainder of the field is how they were running and the way that they approached the race. When you look at the top 10% of the field, you notice that they will shorten the course as much as possible. No, I don’t mean cutting corners or cheating. What I mean is they were coming out of a corner and sighting ahead to see what direction the next turn was and being deliberate about the route they take between each turn. For example, if one of these runners was coming out of a left-hand turn and could see that in a few hundred yards the next turn was a right-hand turn, that runner would begin slowly working their way across the road towards that right-hand turn. It may sound insignificant but doing this saves both time and distance; especially as the races get longer or more technical with twists and turns. You will find this particularly true with longer distances such as a half-marathon or full-marathon.
So, when you’re out on your next run, start to consider this: How can you shorten the distance between one turn and the next? What is the straightest line?
Prevailing theory is that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This would go to say that if you are following curve of the road between two points, or if you’re zig-zagging back and forth across the road, you’re not taking the shortest, fastest route possible. Even if you’re not looking to win the race; if you are someone looking to PR or hit a personal best for each event, you’ll find that this is a very easy way to do that.
PR your next race the easy way by focusing and being more diligent about the path that you are running.