Your race tactics depend largely on your race goal. Are you racing to go the distance, finish within a specific time, or attain a top place?
Whether your racing goal is to finish or hit a specific time, your strategy is virtually the same. Ease into the race. Start the race slightly slower than goal pace, giving your body a chance to fully warm up. The adrenaline of the competition often causes you to walk faster than you expect. Temper your early enthusiasm. By starting slow, you complete the early part of the race without producing more lactic acid than your body can handle.
Gradually approach and maintain goal pace through the majority of the race, taking comfort that you practiced this pace through many workouts. If you wear a heart rate monitor, check your heart rate. It should be the same as during your interval workouts. If your heart rate is much higher, and it’s still early in the race, adjust your race plan and slow down. Similarly, if your heart rate is significantly lower than that of your interval workouts, you have room to quicken the pace. Using your heart rate as a barometer provides a great gauge for your race progress.
As the final goal is in sight, push hard, at or faster than your VO2 Max workout pace. If you time it right, you should cross the line exhausted but happy you reached your goal race time. Never sprint all-out during the last 100 meters. If you have enough energy to sprint hard at the end, start surging earlier. When you sprint, the risk of receiving red cards for loss of contact is high. Thus you’ll fare better surging for the last 800 meters than sprinting the last 100.
Know your lap count. As an athlete, you hold the responsibility for knowing how many laps you have completed. If an official indicates you are done, but you feel you have a lap to go, complete it. Once you stop and end the race, you have no course of action to remediate any laps that you did not complete.