10 Ways to Sizzle, not Fizzle


Fizzle: to fail or end feebly, especially after a promising start.

It happens to all of us: we start out with such high spirits and high hopes and then our race just fizzles. But what if you could make it sizzle rather than fizzle? Here are a few tips to do just that.

Make sure you’ve fueled and hydrated properly
It’s not just about what you take in during a race, even though that’s important. It’s also about what you ate and drank in the days leading up to the race. If you’ve been slacking on the hydration and overdosing on the carbs or sugar, there’s no way you can make up for it on race day.

Respect the rest days
Runners love to run. Some of us embrace the taper and our rest days, too, but all too many runners just wanna run.

Rest is where the muscles start to repair themselves. Rest is where you restore that depleted glycogen (if you’re eating well). Rest can make the difference between a good race and a great race.

If you don’t sleep well the night before a race, don’t sweat it. Much like fueling and hydration, it’s more important what you do leading up to your race than the night before — which doesn’t give you permission to party all night, of course.

Know the course
You don’t have to memorize it. I know not only am I unable to memorize a course, I can’t even quite recall it all when I’ve finished. Knowing where aid stations are, where the hills are, where the half turns off from the full — that’s knowledge that can sometimes make or break your race.

Play to your strengths
When choosing a course, that is. If you live in a flat area, hills are definitely going to seem hard — especially if you won’t embrace a treadmill and be able to at least simulate them. Or maybe you enjoy rolling hills, but hate a downhill course.

Some of my best races have been literally running down mountains, so I keep looking for downhill courses. Although the truth is if a race is interesting to me, I’ll tackle most anything — and have — flat, hilly, sometimes insanely hilly (but no running up Mt. Washington or Pikes Peak, thank you very much), downhill, trails.

Just know what sort of course is kind to you. And if a different kind of course calls to you, go for it.

Lay out (or bring) multiple running clothes
If you’re traveling for a race, this one gets tricky — believe me, I know, since I travel for all my longer races. There’s only so much room in that suitcase (and who wants to pay to check their bag?).

Weather changes. And sometimes weather changes big time. Always add at least +/- 10 degrees to whatever the forecast is, and remember that things like throwaway sweatshirts, arm warmers, and gloves can make a huge difference if you have to stand around in the cold before a race.

Lay out your running clothes the night before
Who wants to think about what to wear when they’re only half awake? Or maybe you’re a morning person like me, but your SO is still snoozing when you head out the door. Lay out your clothes (and remember the point above, lay out different options) the night before and not only will you not skip your run, you won’t have to think about what to wear.

Arrive early
Unless I can walk to the race start, I like to get there an hour beforehand. You just never know what’s going to happen: long portapottie lines, missing timing chip, wrong timing chip, no parking spaces . . . get there early and you’ll have the time to handle what life throws at you. And maybe hit the potty multiple times.

Skip the warmup
In the summer it definitely feels like you don’t need a warmup, but if you’re just standing around, those muscles are probably still tight. When it’s cooler, you’ll definitely tighten up standing around in the cold (even if you have those throwaway clothes).

Warming up doesn’t have to take a long time, 5-10 minutes most likely. It can mean the difference between feeling good and loose — and even potentially an injury.

Nothing new on race day!
It’s oh-so-tempting to wear that new, amazingly soft running top. But have you run in it already? Anywhere close to the distance you’ll be running? Chafing is not fun, and it can definitely make your race fizzle.

And that cookie at mile 9! Or the candy! Even people with pretty good stomachs like me can reject food later in the race. Stick to the tried and true.

Don’t start out too fast!!!!!
More races have been killed by starting too fast than probably anything else. It feels so good, so easy. You’re caught up in the excitement of the crowd (and maybe literally with the crowd). What feels really easy in mile one can translate into the walk of shame in the later miles. Have a plan, and try to stick to it.

Racing seems like a “simple” thing: line up, take off, and go as fast as you can, right? But more than one race has fizzles due to poor planning or poor judgement. It isn’t really that hard to make a race fizzle, rather than sizzle — and visa versa.
— Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy

Deb Runs

I am linking up with Debruns and her Wednesday Word

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.


This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


Tell me in the comments:

What has made a race fizzle for you?

What has made a race sizzle for you?

23 thoughts on “10 Ways to Sizzle, not Fizzle

  1. That “don’t start out too fast” is always the killer for me. I usually get caught up in the excitement of a race and bolt off of the starting line. For a 5k, that’s not too bad, but for a longer race, I get myself in trouble sometimes. Oh, well, I don’t think I’ll be doing any “bolting” in the near future. A slow shuffle is all I can manage! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fizzle. Too much walking the day before. Not enough carbs the day before. Rain fizzles the race because I can’t enjoy the scenery and the post race experience. That’s more important than a PR.

    Sizzle. Running with a friend. Winning an award. No injuries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The half this weekend also had a 10 mile & a 5k, so there was a turnoff for them. As usual in a hot race, I asked myself why I didn’t sign up for a the 10 miler, but of course then I wouldn’t have added another state and that was pretty much the purpose of the weekend!


  3. setting yourself up for success definitely helps tremendously on race day. The frustrating part is when you do everything right and it still fizzles. Sometimes it’s just not your day. My biggest problem is starting too fast for sure

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m nodding my head as I read this. I have definitely had a few races fizzle because I was dehydrated or I started too fast. Great advice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I didn’t start too fast — I couldn’t, crowded course! — but very uncharacteristically for me I did not drink enough water last weekend. I don’t think the race would have turned out a lot better if I had, but I would have at least felt better!


  5. Really great advice! I will say that when I trained for the New Jersey Marathon, I intentionally trained on as much flat land as possible! I actually live in a really hilly neighborhood, so I had to make an extra effort to get to those trails, but it was so worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Judy! There are so many factors that can make our races fizzle and I’ve experienced them all at one point or another. 😀

    I didn’t even realize you’d linked up until I just happened to check out your post (WordPress didn’t notify me). Thanks for linking up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually hadn’t gotten around to really linking up yet. 😦 It’s been a busy few weeks & I will miss the WW!

      I wish I could say my race last weekend sizzled instead of fizzled but alas, it happens to us all. Even when you do *almost* everything right.

      Liked by 1 person

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