Big race tomorrow? Feeling nervous, excited and a little scatterbrained all at once? Just follow this easy guide to race prepping and you will be on your way! Whether it’s your first race or your 10th, there are always important things to consider and plan for. Planning and preparing in advance will make you feel more calm, in control, focused and allow for much more FUN!
1. Race Kit Pickup
Print or digitally prepare your race entry receipts, email confirmations and any other identification that you will need to pick up your race kit. Ideally you should pick up your race kit a day or so before the race. However if you are travelling then this might not be possible. In that case, same day race kit pickups make for very long lineups so plan to give yourself some extra time.
2. Study the Race Course
All races post their race course online. Look up your course a few weeks beforehand and study it. Know the curves, twists, turns and hills of the course. If the location allows, then the best advice is to run the course in practice a few times. You will feel more confident on race day having practiced the route in advance.
3. Arrive Early
If your race is called for 9am, arrive and be ready at least 45 minutes in advance. This is beneficial for practical reasons like last minute bathroom stops and to allow for unexpected delays such as traffic.
4. Fuel & Hydration
In the last 24hours before the race be conscious of hydrating well but don’t over do it either. Your fuel and hydration should depend on the distance that you will be racing. No need to eat a huge bowl of spaghetti the night before if you are running 5 or 10km. Just stick to healthy options and portions that encompass all the food groups. Again depending on the distance you are racing, you may want to have your own water and snacks in your fuel belt on race day. Waiting too long for the water station during a race can be detrimental to your ability to complete the race as planned. So know your distance and eat and drink accordingly.
5. What to Wear
Not only are there tons of fun things to buy at race expos but the pull to wear something new, cute and flashy on race day is the downfall of many new runners. If you buy something at the expo, save it for when you get home and definitely don’t wear the t-shirt from your race kit! Basically a good rule of thumb is that if you haven’t trained in it, don’t wear it on race day! Last thing you want to experience is uncomfortable chafing 2 km into your race!
Some runners swear by their tunes and others prefer to listen to the beat of their feet on the ground. For most runners though, music is uplifting, motivating and helps them to reach their goals. If this applies to you then prepare your playlist in advance and plan it so that your music reflects the motivation you will need along the way. If you know that mile 10 is the hardest for you, plan for your favorite tunes to lift you up when you get there.
7. Know Your Goals
Even if you’re racing for fun you still have goals. Everyone does, even if you don’t vocalize them to others. Maybe you want to run this race without walking, maybe you want a PR, maybe you just want to cross the finish line. Whatever your goals are accept them, be proud of them and write them down before the race. Writing down your goals makes them more tangible and easier to accomplish. A good plan is to have 3 goals -A, B and C. That way if you don’t reach goal A or B you still have C to fall back on. You want to aim to make your racing experience one where you emerge confident and proud even if you didn’t make it to goal A.
8. Focus & Visualization
Like anything else in life, if you want to achieve something you must focus on it. Stand at the starting line and get in the zone. The zone of mentally preparing yourself for what’s ahead. Don’t get distracted by the noise, crowds and excitement. All of this can lead you to starting off your race too quickly and then losing steam further down the line. Visualize the goals you wrote down at home. Go through the steps in your head of how to achieve them. Remember what you did in practice, what worked and what didn’t.
9. Warm Up in the Line Up
Stretch, stretch and stretch again! This issue literally becomes a sore spot for many runners. It is impossible to expect your body to go from standing still to full on running. So jump up and down and run on the spot to get that heart rate going. Then stretch out your muscles. Don’t worry about what you look like because no one is watching, everyone will be too focused on themselves anyway. Stretch out your hamstrings and glutes, warm up your ankles and feet. Lunge, reach and bend. Make sure your body is awake and ready for action!
10. Appreciate the Moment
When the horn blows and the race begins take a moment to appreciate how far you have come. There was a time when you didn’t run, when you couldn’t run. Regardless of how your race ends, appreciate the beginning. Be thankful of the situations and the people in your life that have helped to get you to this moment. Maybe you are running for a fundraiser or in memory of a loved one, maybe you are running to inspire someone else or to mark the start of a new beginning. Whatever your reason is be sure to feel it in that moment, be present and be thankful that you can indeed RUN.