There comes a time in every runner’s life when they need some encouragement, perhaps some insight, or maybe just a few friendly reminders about racing, race day, and what to expect. Newer runners have a million and one questions. Veteran runners are always looking for a new idea to keep race morning as low-key and stress-free as possible.
Today is a special edition of the Running Coaches’ Corner. I’m linking up with my usual co-hosts, Debbie, Lora, and Susie, in addition to Cynthia from You Signed Up for What?. We thought it might be fun to offer some race day tips for everyone with upcoming spring races. I have my first race of 2017 coming up on Sunday and I must say, it was nice to put some ideas down to even remind myself of some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
Since there are a variety of race distances fast approaching, I chose to go somewhere in the middle and compromised at 13.1. Seems like a nice, round, even number doesn’t it? These tips and tricks are in a general order of when you may need to use them — from the night before a big race all the way through to the race itself. Hopefully these race day tips help you stave off any lingering anxiety and provide you with some tricks you may not already use yourself.
Without further ado, I present:
13.1 Tips and Tricks for Your Best Race Day
Race Day Tips
1. Flat me, for the win!
To help keep your pre-race jitters in check, do as much before race morning as possible. Creating a “flat me,” or simply laying out all your race day apparel, accessories and gear the night before a race, will help tame any anxiety.
2. Pin your bib on the night before.
In addition to creating a “Flat Me,” it’s helpful to pin your bib to your clothes the night before. Then you won’t stand fumbling either in front of your mirror before you have to leave or with shaky hands at the starting line trying to pin your bib on straight. Save yourself the hassle — do it the night before.
3. Pre-load your playlist.
There’s nothing worse than planning a race without a playlist only to find yourself in a funk desperate for a lyrical pick-me-up. Even if you don’t think you’ll need tunes during your race, create a playlist anyway. You never know when you might need a boost. Helpful hint: strategically place upbeat tunes within the playlist where you know you’ll need a lift. Middle miles? Finish line? Wherever you need it most.
4. Skip the huge pre-race dinner.
Instead of saving your carbo-loading for the night before a big race, load on carbs a few days before race day. You risk angering the GI Gods by choosing a heavy dinner the night before. By enjoying a lighter meal the evening before a race, you’ll sleep better and feel lighter on your feet the next morning.
5. Need something to take the edge off?
Read up on some race day humor. A good laugh always helps us through the stressful times!
6. Wake up on time.
Set your alarm early enough to allow time for: hydrating, eating, and using the facilities. Don’t rush yourself in the morning. Just chill. Read a book or the newspaper. Relax.
7. Don’t stress over lost sleep.
Most people don’t sleep well the night before a race. It is what it is. Just accept it and move on. But don’t dwell on it because chances are you’ll spike your cortisol levels and sleep will be a figment of your imagination.
8. Lube up.
If you’re running a longer race — or a shorter one in the hotter months — lube up. Everywhere. Don’t leave one centimeter of skin exposed. There’s nothing worse than a tiny skin rub turning into giant chafe patch in the middle of a marathon. Don’t let it happen to you. Lube it up!
9. Wear all the clothes. Throw it all away.
This tip is applicable mostly for the longer distances (half marathons and up). Since distance races are typically held in the spring or fall, temperatures may make wild swings from gun time to crossing the finish line. Wear lots of layers to stay warm before the race and toss it off just before you begin running. Note: most races donate all the discarded apparel and accessories from the starting line.
10. Stay hydrated.
Racing light? Bring a disposable mini water bottle with you to the starting line. Toss it when it’s go time. Note: this is not an eco-friendly option.
11. Enjoy the scenery and read the signs.
One of the best parts of racing are the signs on the race course. There are some pretty funny people out there! Comedians — all of them! Enjoy the views. Read the signs. Have a laugh and have fun!
12. When anxiety just won’t leave you alone…
13. Use the potty. Early and often.
Use the potty at home every chance you get. When you get to the race, get in line for the porta-potties. After you’ve used one, if there’s still time, use it again.
13.1 Have FUN.
This is a given but sometimes racing overshadows any sort of fun to be had. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point? Be sure to have a blast while you’re out there. After all, you’ve been training for months. It’s a celebration!
These 13.1 race day tips will help any runner get to their first or their 50th race — sanely and rationally. Don’t let race day anxiety derail you. Pocket the race day tips for later use and enjoy the run!
TALK TO ME!
What’s one race day tip or trick you’d add to the list?
Do you prefer racing or “fun running?”
Please note there are TWO linkups at the bottom of this post. The first one is for the Running Coaches’ Corner. The second one is to share your Race Day Tips with us!