Running Tangents…A half marathon is supposed to be 13.1 not 13.35!!!!!!

Because I am doing some research on this myself, I thought I would share it with you.

How many times did you look down at your GPS watch in a race thinking you were right on for your goal time, just about to finish the race….but wait!…where’s the finish line! My watch says 3.1 or 6.2 or 13.1 or 26.2, WHERE IS THE FINISH line!!!!


They should make stickers that say 13.1+! You end up finishing and look at your watch and you ran farther than the race was supposed to be.

The problem was most likely not with your watch or with the course…but they way the course was run! I have never really spent much time looking into this…I actually never spend too much time looking at course maps (I am directionally challenged anyways and really don’t like maps :))  or anything, I just show up and run! But I also always run farther than the race is supposed to be. The reason is because I am not running the tangents.


In case you forgot from high school Geometry, a tangent is a straight line that is perpendicular to a curve. When a race course is measured and certified, it is done so from tangent to tangent and by running from point-to-point, you run the measured (and certified) distance. Any variation from running the “tangent route” will add mileage to your race route.It may be only a small amount, but any amount adds time and no wants to do that!!!

If you want to think of it simply, think about a track. If two runners start at the same place and 1 runner is in lane 1 and the other is in lane 2, after a lap around the track the runner in lane one will have run a shorter distance.

You can also look at it like this for a winding roadway:


Running the tangents means that you might be able to skip several curves by running a straight line through the entire section, depending on the size of the curves and the width of the course.

So what is the benefit to knowing and running the “tangents”…’ll cover less distance, expend less energy and get a faster time!!!! Clearly running the tangents has great benefits!!! Clearly it will be hard to run a course just right, especially since races have other runners :)…but at least applying this you can reduce the distance you run even if it is only a little :)!

On that note, I am getting SO excited for Sat! It is supposed to be a perfect day!


I also created an AWESOME drink!!!! Nuun is just great by itself, but the other day I added a little bit of Crystal Light lemonade to my grape Nuun….AMAZING!!!! I also tried it with cherry limeade Nuun…SO GOOD!!!!



Have you ever researched tangents before a race or is that just too much math?

Nuun drinker? If not…it is SO good!



  1. says

    I’m terrible at running tangents! My watch after my marathon last fall was over by nearly half a mile.
    I always tell myself that I’ll remember next time. Next race I’ll just run straight between any curves… but checking the race course map sounds like a much better idea 🙂

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