Race Day Preparation
The day is upon us. All the training, nutrition, and recovery sessions are now about to be put to the test. You got plenty of rest, woke up early, met with your group, and are now just waiting for the starting gun to go off to embark on your first race. Here are 5 tips for during the race to help you get to the finish line.
Tip #1 Limit Your Hydration
You definitely need to stay hydrated, but don’t chug that bottle of water right before the start of your race. Take a drink to top off your fluids as needed once you wake up and throughout the day as you normally would. Shocking your system with an influx of fluids will not settle in your system as well as one might hope. While it might seem obvious, keeping yourself properly hydrated the days (and weeks) leading up to your race is vital to setting yourself up for success.
Tip #2 Fuel With A Plan
Don’t eat anything particularly heavy about 2 hours prior to the start of your race. You will find many runners eat a light and rather plain breakfast consisting of bagels, peanut butter, bananas, and other light snacks. This is intentional as heavier foods will weigh down on your racing performance. So save that nice cut of steak until after your victory lap. It goes without saying that different body types require different levels of nutrition, so plan out your race day food plan ahead of time and practice eating those foods before your race. Consistency in your diet will help settle your nerves and keep the butterfly’s of a different kind out of your stomach right before you start to race. Listen to your body and be mindful of how your body reacts – especially right before your race.
Tip #3 Dress for Success
While running gear and attire is important, it is just as important to know what clothing to bring and when. Check the weather ahead of time for your race day and be prepared for any weather condition. As a general rule of thumb, most races will start early in the morning and will gradually get warmer throughout the day. A great way to get comfortable with the temperature is to get in a good warm-up before your race and see how your body feels after breaking a sweat. Your body normally gets warmer as it starts to burn calories which means you might regret having that sweater on once the sun really heats up the course.
Pack a trash bag if possible as it can double as extra storage and a rain shield if the weather calls for a bit of showers. Races don’t usually have lockers to store your belongings, so bring your friends and family to help carry your extra gear (and to cheer you on, of course).
Tip #4 Fix What’s Bothering You
During the race, if you notice something bothering you like shoelaces coming undone, a fanny pack belt hitting against your side, socks riding down, and/or the dreaded rock in your shoe, fix it immediately rather than waiting. Don’t let the added mental stress of something nagging you shift your focus away from completing your race.
Tip #5 Steady Pace
Slow and steady might not only win you the race, but it might also help you settle your nerves to be more efficient during your race. Depending on how comfortable you are, a good rule of thumb is to start at a good pace that will allow your body to adjust. At the start of your race, adrenaline will be rushing through your body as the excitement from the start of the race will make you feel like you can run forever. Once that initial rush settles down, you don’t want to get caught with a depleted stamina bar. Staying steady and maintaining your pace is key. Soon, you’ll be coming around the bend to see the finish line with all the spectators cheering your every step towards the finish line!