Author: Benita Willis | February 7, 2018
Race day can be stressful for everyone, especially for runners who are just starting out on the racing scene. How you prepare on race day can have a big impact on your race, so that is why it is essential to know what you need to do to have the best race possible and to ensure the day runs smoothly. Here are some important tips that you should keep in mind as you approach your next big race.
- Prepare everything the day before
Preparation is key, so minimise stress on race day by being proactive the day before. Lay out your race kit on your table or the end of your bed, which should include your race clothing, shoes, socks, watch, bib number and food and drink. You should also figure out what time you will need to wake up to get to the race on time, and also organise your transportation to the event.
- Arrive with plenty of time to spare
It is important to arrive at least one hour before the start of your race. This will give you enough time to find your bearings at the event and to complete a full warm-up before queuing up at the toilets and navigating your way to the start line. You never know what delays or hold-ups you may experience when travelling to the event so allowing plenty of time will help you remain calm and in control.
- Ensure you are well-fuelled
The worst thing you can do before a race is to forget to eat and run on empty. Your body needs fuel, and even if you are not hungry you need to at least eat something. Avoid anything heavy or with a lot of fibre, and stick to foods that are easy to digest. Examples of foods that are good to eat before a race include peanut butter and banana on toast or a bowl of oatmeal.
- Stick to your regular routine
The day of a race is the worst time to try something new! Stick to foods that you are used to and eat what you normally would before a morning session.
- Familiarise yourself with the course
Most races provide a course map on their website, so make sure to look over this carefully before the start of the race. It can be helpful to take note of key landmarks on the course (such as turnarounds or bridge-crossings) and how far into the race they are.
- Dress appropriately
Before the race and during warm-up, make sure you are wearing enough layers to stay warm. The last thing you want before a race is for your muscles to get cold! However, for the actual race you do not want to be wearing too many layers as you will most likely warm up very quickly. If it is extremely cold, start the race with a pair of old gloves that you won’t mind throwing off at some point during the race.
- Allow plenty of time to go to the bathroom
The lines for porta-potties at races can often be quite long, so you should always allow extra time between completing your warm-up and the start of the race to head to the bathroom.
Completing a proper warm-up is essential to racing well and avoiding injury. In general, you should start warming up half an hour before you head over to the start line. Your warm-up should include 5-10 minutes of slow jogging, dynamic stretching (such as leg swings), drills (such as high knees, butt kicks and skips) and 80 metre run-throughs.
- Stay positive
It’s normal to feel nervous, but don’t forget to make the most of the experience and to enjoy everything the event has to offer. This is your chance to show off how hard you have been training, so believe in yourself and get ready to do your best!