You've been training for weeks, and the big day is fast approaching. Whether it's your first 5K or a marathon, here's our advice to give yourself the best chance to succeed.
Before the Race
- Study the route and double-check important information on the event’s website. Will they offer a bag drop or runner storage? Does the race end at the same location as it starts? Are headphones allowed? Having all the important information ahead of time helps avoid surprises and ensure you start the race on the right foot.
- Make sure you get plenty of good, quality sleep. Many people don't sleep well before a race because they’re anxious or excited. Getting enough quality sleep all week will help your body feel refreshed and full of energy on race day, even if you sleep poorly the night before.
- Fill up on carbs. Start eating pasta, rice and potatoes a few days before the race to build up your body’s complex carbohydrate supplies. The day before the race, choose a recipe that you know well and is easily digestible to avoid any issues. This is not the time to try new foods!
- Drink lots of water. Set reminders in your calendar or download an app to remind yourself to hydrate frequently. Even being slightly dehydrated 24 hours before a race can impact your performance. Bottoms up!
- Prepare 99% of your bag the night before. Put everything you need in one bag, and make a list of any last-minute items you need to gather in the morning (e.g., water bottle, charging GPS watch, etc.). Place the list next to your bag. In the morning, it will be more reliable than your overly excited or under-caffeinated brain.
On Race Day
- Arrive on-site at least an hour early. Give yourself plenty of time to find the bag drop, use the restrooms and get to the start line. The atmosphere before a race is often electrifying: take it all in! Use the remaining time to warm up and pump yourself up.
- Don't wear anything new. It usually takes a few runs to break in a new pair of shoes, and most clothes get softer after the first wash. To avoid unpleasant surprises (sunglasses that fall off, irritating tags), wear clothing, shoes and accessories that have proven their efficiency and durability during your training.
- Eat your last meal or snack about 3 hours before the race. If you eat oatmeal before your morning workout, stick with it. If you are going to eat a protein bar and fruit before the race, be sure to test this combo in training as well. Basically, don't change your winning recipes!
- Carry water, electrolytes and a snack. During the race, don't wait until you're thirsty: take a sip every 10 minutes. For half and full marathons, refuel with fruit, energy bar or gel at the halfway point for an extra dose of energy.
- Take a moment to congratulate yourself. You've worked hard to get here! It takes discipline and dedication to train for your first race. And remember, just being here at the event is a success, regardless of the time you clock in.
After the Race
- Rest. In the week following the race, take it easy. Don’t schedule any running or demanding workouts and let your body recuperate. If you get antsy and want to move, opt for gentle activities such as yoga or swimming.
- Start planning your next run (if you want to). Got the bug? Join the club! Set yourself a new goal to keep you motivated and stay on track for your next race.