6 Tips for Race Day
Whether this is your first race, or you are a seasoned marathon runner, a run always takes preparation. You should have started preparing for this race at a minimum 12 weeks ago, sometimes longer depending on the type and length of the race. There are so many things that go into helping you have a successful race, so especially if you are a beginner, it is important to have a plan, and know exactly what you are getting yourself into, so you aren’t panicking and unprepared the day of. Even though the majority of your prep happens long before the race, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to have ready and done on the day of.
- Be Hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least a couple days before the race, and ensure you are getting in about 2 liters of water a day so that your body is completely hydrated. Although there will be water stations there, or you may bring water with you, you don’t want to go into the race not feeling energized and hydrated, or you won’t make it very far.
- Do Not Wear New Shoes. You may have found the coolest new pair of running shoes that you bought specifically for this race, but avoid wearing them at all costs. You should be running in the usual shoes that you practice in, as they are already worn in, and you know how they fit and feel. A new pair of shoes could cause discomfort, blisters, and prevent you from running to the best of your ability. Save them for another day.
- Eat Properly. Not only should you be eating properly the night before, but you should be carbo-loading in the days leading up to the race as well, NOT the day of. We’ve all seen the episode of the Office – Fun Run, where Michael Scott eats more fettuccine alfredo and drinks less water than he has in his entire life immediately before the race, and ends up sick to his stomach unable to finish. You don’t want that happening to you, so make sure to do all your carbo-loading properly, and avoid a heavy meal before the race, as your body needs proper time to digest the food.What is carbo loading? When you eat carbs, they are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver, and that is your body’s most accessible form of energy. Therefore having your muscles properly filled with glycogen will help you run your best. Fat, on the other hand, take longer to convert into energy, so if you run out of glycogen, it will take your body longer to create more energy.
How do I carbo load? A few days before your race, 85% of your diet should consist of carbs. This includes foods like pasta, rice, grains, starchy veggies, and bread. The morning of your race, continue having carbs but on a lower scale, for instance, a bagel or oatmeal. DO NOT overdo it.
- Get There Early. Whether it is your first race or not, it’s important to get there early so you can get an idea of where everything is; the water stations, bathroom, starting and finishing line, etc. You want your full focus on the race ahead, you don’t want to be worrying about not having enough time to go washroom, or feeling unprepared, especially if this race is in a new city that you aren’t familiar with. This will also give you time to properly warm up and stretch, which is important for a successful run.
- Dress Properly. This consists of planning ahead and knowing what you will be most comfortable in. Be sure to check the weather beforehand, as this can affect what gear you will want to wear/bring. Make sure to wear sweat-wicking materials so that not chafing occurs, as that can hinder your performance. Similar to not wearing new shoes, do not wear new clothes either. You need to be sure that what you have on are things that you are 100% certain will help you run well.
- Have a Plan but Be Relaxed. There is no telling how the race may actually go once it gets going, but going in with an idea of how you wish to run in. Whether that be starting fast, and then slowing down, or the other way around, having an idea of how you hope to run the race will help to give you motivation when others may be passing you. Try not to concern yourself with other racers either, their plan may be completely different than yours, and that doesn’t mean that it’s better and that you should forget how you wanted to run, just to keep up with them. You may get frustrated or down on yourself throughout it, but try to stay calm, and just breathe, being tense will only make things worse.