About to run a race tomorrow morning, I know the feeling well. And based on my amateur participation in races over the past 6-ish years, here are the top 10 things runners should do before every race.
- Pay closer attention to your diet and H2O intake. Make sure you're fueling your body appropriately so you're getting all the nutrients you need to get across the finish line. Tips: carry a water bottle with you wherever you go (and drink water from it) and make your plates as colorful as possible.
- Roll out each night. Do this catching up on Netflix, listening to a podcast or while your quinoa is cooking. A few minutes go a long way.
- Keep running and strength training, but not too much. You don't want sore legs from an epic set of squats holding you back on race day, but maintaining your plank-a-day streak is a-okay.
- Get as much sleep as possible. Chances are you won't sleep well the night before the race, but as long as you get solid sleeps earlier in the week you should be okay.
- Make sure you know where you're going and what time the race it. This might sound obvious but it can be easy to overlook. If you can, pick up your race pack and ask questions like where to park and if there's a bag check.
- Don't eat anything crazy. Everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to pre-race meals but pretty much across the board it's best for runners not to try anything crazy or new the night before a race. Even the cleanest of Porta-Potties are not where you want to spend race morning.
- Get ready for the morning. Walk through your pre-race routine and get as much of it out and set as possible. Clothes, breakfast, tea, race bib, keys, phone, watch, sunblock. Check the weather forecast. Write a list of everything else you need and put it where you'll be sure to see it when you're getting ready still half asleep.
- Trust in your training and preparation. You've worked hard for this, and you're ready for what comes. And in that off chance that training didn't go as well as you had planned because, well, life happens, then have Plan B and maybe Plan C in mind.
- Wake early and leave early. Sprinting to the start line is no way to start a race.
- Follow your normal routine - don't try anything too different from what you know works. That's what training runs are for.
- Get to the race location with plenty of time to do what you need to do - dynamic stretches, Porta-Potty stops, catch a satellite on your watch, get pumped up for the race.
Do all this and you'll get to the start line feeling ready for a great race. In my opinion, the most important thing is that I have fun when I'm racing, that I push myself and feel accomplished and proud at the finish. Even if a race doesn't go exactly how I'd hoped for (it happens to everyone now and then) at least I can say that I did my best on that day.
What are your pre-race tips? * What races are on your calendar this year? * Do you race to win or race for fun? (or somewhere in the middle)