Race Day. It’s the day all of your training has been preparing you for. Whether you’re a first time racer or a veteran going for a new PR (personal record) you may find that race day nerves hit.
One of the best ways to deal with the race day jitters is preparation.
Of course the first step of your race day preparation is your training, but a little extra planning to help smooth out the day of the race can decrease any anxiety you may be feeling.
2-3 Days Prior to Race Day:
-Sleep: Often it’s difficult to sleep the night before a race. You will run best if you are well rested. You can start this process a few days before the race. You have probably tapered off your training to rest your muscles, don’t negate those effects by skimping on sleep.
-Diet: Make sure you are getting in enough high quality carbs. 2-3 nights before the race you want to increase your carbs (especially if you are doing a longer distance race). Don’t make any drastic changes to your diet, or experiment with a lot of new foods. Food is fuel for your race, but you don’t want to try a new type of fuel and find that you have gastrointestinal issues on race day. Your largest carb loaded meal should occur 2 nights before the race, and not the night before. Meals should also include lean proteins. Foods to avoid: Dairy (unless you know this agrees with you), processed and fatty foods. High quality fats (fish, avocado, coconut) are okay, and can actually improve your endurance on race day, but only include these if you have tried it during your training. Make sure you are hydrating!
-Clothing: Make sure your race day clothing is clean for race day. Race day isn’t the time to try out a new outfit or pair of shoes. Race in something that you know is comfortable. Trust me on this one. I ran in a brand new sports bra and ended up with cuts around my rib cage where the bra was rubbing.
Day Before the Race:
-Sleep: Try to get a good night’s sleep. If you have trouble sleeping due to the excitement don’t worry about it to much! That’s very common, and most of the other runners are probably experiencing the same thing.
-Diet: Stick to what you know. If you want to continue carb loading eat your larger carb meal at lunch. Dinner should include some high quality protein. Eat enough food to feel nourished, but don’t over do it. When you don’t sleep well your body doesn’t digest your food as well, and that can lead to GI problems on race day.
-Clothing: Lay out everything you want to bring/wear to the race. Be sure to dress for the weather. It’s nice to have a clean shirt to change into after the race (especially if you get sweaty and it’s cold outside). Don’t forget to lay out your shoes and socks. Don’t be tempted by any new clothing purchases you have made that haven’t proven themselves run proof. Some people sleep in the clothes they are racing in to eliminate a step the next day.
-Extras: Pack anything extra you might need to bring. Clean socks for after the race. If you have asthma don’t forget to bring an inhaler. If you are using gu packs, snacks, or any supplements for use before, during or after the race make sure they are packed (If you haven’t trained with these do not try them for the first time on race day!) Camera/phone if you want to commemorate your day or pre-post race experience. You might need band aids for your nipples (lots of men require this), and A & D ointment to prevent chaffing.
-Make sure you know where you are going! Review any directions/GPS, race start time, sign in/registration times. Don’t forget cash for registration if you’re registering day of.
Day of the Race:
-Wake Up and eat breakfast/drink coffee as usual. Try to eat about 2-3 hours before the race starts. Don’t try anything new or crazy (have I stated that enough?) Have a little bit of water, but don’t overhydrate. You should have stayed well hydrated over the last few days. Over-hydrating can negatively impact race performance and lead to cramps. Stop drinking water about 1 hour before race time. One bottle of water pre-race (about 16 ounces) should be enough.
-Apply anything you need for the race (band aids, A&D, etc).
-Make sure you have directions, and give yourself plenty of time to get to the race venue.
-Don’t forget any of the items you pre-packed. If you are wearing racing flats make sure you have them with you.
-Check shoe laces, and timing chip (if your event is using chips).
-Do a light warm-up before the race. Keep the warm-up dynamic (jogging, strides, plyo). Static stretching should be saved for after the race.
-Enjoy your day! You worked hard to get to race day! Relax, take a moment to appreciate your body and mind for all of the work it took to get you to the starting line, and run your race!