Maybe you’ve run a gazillion races. Maybe you’re planning your first one. For one of the guys I trained with, the marathon this past weekend was his very first race…ever! He’d been running, but he’d never run even a 5K! I was super impressed. My first race was a 5K, and I was intimidated by that. I can’t imagine facing a marathon as my very first race. At any rate, whatever your plans are about running a race, I thought I’d give you my tips on being well prepared to run a race.
- Hydrate well. Whether the temperatures outside will be hot or cold, you’ll need to be well hydrated going into the race. Start drinking more water in the days leading up to the race. Waiting until the day before the race won’t give you enough time to get well hydrated. All last week, I walked around with my insulated cup just sipping throughout the day. My goal is to drink half my body weight in ounces of water every day.2. Charge up all your gadgets. I like to charge up my Garmin and my bluetooth ear buds (review coming up soon on that) the day before the race so there’s no doubt they are fully charged. Don’t forget to charge your phone, too! I just plug mine in and let it charge overnight.3. Check your playlist. I have a marathon playlist that I created with hours of my favorite, upbeat songs. I have everything from a little J Lo and Pitbull to Planetshakers! Quite a combo, uh? But I like to double check my playlist. Sometimes songs fall off for some strange reason. Technology.4. Remember to pick up your race packet. Some smaller races may let you pick up your bib at the event, but bigger races like the marathon this past weekend do not have day of the event pick-up. There was an expo before the marathon that runners needed to attend to pick up their race packet. Know when and where you need to go to pick up your bib. You may not be allowed to run without it!5. Lay out everything you’ll need for the race, including clothes. Don’t wait until race morning to get everything together. Laying everything out a day ahead of time will assure you that you have all the nutrition that you need, that you know how you’re going to carry it, and that you have your favorite running gear clean and ready to go. You don’t want to be scrambling on race morning to find what you need! 6. Don’t try anything new. I don’t eat anything that I don’t usually eat in the days leading up to a race. I want to stick with things that I know how my stomach reacts to. In fact, I have a pre-race dinner that I almost always have: pasta with marinara sauce and chicken. Don’t wear new clothes or new shoes that haven’t been broken in. That’s just asking for chafing and blisters. Don’t do any new exercises. This is NOT the week to be adventurous!8. Rest. It still feels weird to me to cut down on running in the week leading up to a race. It seems counterintuitive, right? But resting allows your muscles to heal so that you’re strong and ready to go. In every race that I’ve run following that week of rest, I’ve hit a PR. Just sayin’…I do like to do extra stretching and rolling of tight muscles during the days leading up to a race, though.9. Have a routine for race morning. I like to get up about 2 hours before I need to leave the house. This gives me time to shower, eat breakfast and not have to run on a full stomach. Just like I have a pre-race dinner, I have a race morning breakfast: a banana and a rice cake with peanut butter and honey. I also try to drink about 20 ounces of water when I wake up, finishing the last of it about an hour before the race starts. That lets me go into the race well hydrated without having to visit the port-a-potty every mile. 10. Check the weather. Last but not least, look at the weather forecast before you head out the door to make sure you are dressed appropriately. If there’s a chance of rain, I like to just go ahead and wear a hat. Looking at highs and lows of temperatures over the span of your race will let you know how to dress. I like to use the rule of dressing for temperatures 20 degrees warmer than actual temperatures. That may mean dressing in layers so you can shed clothes as you warm up. I will tie jackets around my waist as I no longer need them, or like for the marathon this past weekend, I bought a jacket at a thrift store for a few dollars and just added it to the pile of clothes along the race route when I no longer needed it.
Talk to me:
What races have you done? If you’ve never done one, would you want to?
How do you prepare for races?