This is the time of the year when many towns and organizations sponsor road races.

One of my favorite ones is the Westport Summer Series sponsored by the Town Recreation Dept. It begins on June 30 with a 2.3-mile run, then builds up every Saturday in mileage until Sept. 1, which is a 10 miler before Labor Day.

This series is a wonderful way for beginners to build up their racing skills.

The mental aspects of racing are very important. Runners need to develop mental toughness in order to succeed in competition. Each and every runner who has ever stepped up to a starting line feels the anxiety and experiences the emotions of competition. A major part of the psychological preparation for a race is making sure that all the pre-race details have been taken care of.

The following list contains some helpful things:

Know the course. Drive over the course or study a map of it.

Know the check-in time and where to report.

Know the starting time and place. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive without having to rush.

Dress in the proper running gear for the weather conditions.

Know the points on the course, where the water stations are located, and the hills and flats to plan your strategy.

Most athletes find getting "psyched-up" before a race adds to their confidence. Many races are won or lost because of self-confidence. If your training has been going well and you feel fit, it should be easy to convince yourself that you are ready for the task at hand.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss, a sports podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathon & has a practice in Darien; affiliated with Stamford Hospital and member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot & Ankle. For info visit his Web site at www.stamford

healthmedicalgroup.org, and find a Physician-Dr. Robert F. Weiss.