We train hard. We dial in our nutrition & hydration. And then something happens on race day, and we can’t hold the pace that we should be able to hold. It’s completely understandable to want to point the finger at one thing, so we know what to fix. But, sometimes, there are several factors at play, and many are out of our control.

If you have been in this situation, let’s talk through some of the variables & causes.

Nutrition & Hydration

First, let’s double-check our nutrition & hydration. We know that we need to consume the right fuel & hydration, at the right time, in the right amount, leading up to race day & during the race. Inadequate nutrition & hydration can lead to increased heart rate, slower paces, increased core body temperature, GI distress, and “hitting the wall”. Did you check these boxes for your race?

  • Adjusting nutrition with mileage throughout training
  • Practicing recovery nutrition throughout training
  • Carb loading before your race (& doing it the right way!)
  • Hydrating adequately during your carb load
  • Eating enough carbs pre-race
  • Fueling early & often during your race
  • Hydrating with the correct amount of fluid & sodium before & during your race


If Mother Nature throws any of these conditions – warmth, humidity, direct sun, rain, snow or windy conditions –  at you, your pace may be affected. Weather changes can cause our Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to increase, making our pace feel harder than it should. Most people need to adjust their pace. Some people are more tolerant than others of running in different conditions.

Course Terrain

There’s a big difference between a flat course & a hilly course on race day. Some of us are more affected by hills than others. Hills will increase our heart rate and may make it more difficult to take in fuel. Adjust your pace as needed and try taking those gels on the downhill next race.


There are both good & bad stressors – but too much of their stressor is not a good thing. We may experience stress from our jobs, family life, running, sleep, travel, etc. Managing stress during training and before race day is important! Anxiety at the start line will burn through our precious glycogen stores.

Where to go from here...

If you are pretty sure that you nailed your nutrition & hydration plan, as well as your training you may have had to slow your pace due to one of the above external factors, and sometimes, we just have a bad day and don’t know why. Or, maybe we woke up sick a couple of days post-race and were fighting a cold on race day. So what now? While it isn’t always easy, we take all of the knowledge we’ve learned and move on to the next race! Because if there is one thing we know about runners, we are persistent little devils!

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Disclaimer: The content in our blog articles provides generalized nutrition guidance. The information above may not apply to everyone. For personalized recommendations, please reach out to your sports dietitian. Individuals who may chose to implement nutrition changes agree that Featherstone Nutrition is not responsible for any injury, damage or loss related to those changes or participation.