Race Day Tips

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By: Vanessa Theis, NASM-CPT

Running a race is an exciting experience. You’ve put lots of hard work into training and now it’s time for the big day. To make sure all your hard work is used to its fullest potential, there are some essential tips you can use. Whether you’re running a 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon, here are 5 important recommendations to improve your race day experience and avoid common mistakes.

BE PREPARED: Take the guesswork and stress out of race day morning by preparing the night before. Lay out everything you need for the morning, including your bib, clothes, shoes, breakfast, water, etc. Create a checklist that you can use to make your routine as easy and brainless as possible. Whatever your race distance, you will sleep better and be calmer on race morning if you have everything ready to go.

DON’T TRY ANYTHING NEW: From shorts to shoes to nutrition, race day is not a good time to test out anything new. Be sure to stick to your routine and what you know. Save any new goodies from the expo for something to enjoy after the race.

PACE YOURSELF: It’s easy to get caught up in race-day adrenaline and go out too fast in the first mile. Start slower than you think you should and keep the pace comfortable. There will be plenty more miles to pick up the pace if you’re feeling great. Eventually, the race will become more challenging and you will be happy you held back in the beginning. Make a pacing strategy with even or negative splits and do your best to stick to the plan.

TRUST YOUR TRAINING: Trust your training will get you through the miles and always run your own race. You trained hard, so when things get tough, remember all the miles you put in to help keep you going. Regardless of race distance or goal pace, there will be points where you start to question how you can sustain your pace. Try not to think ahead. Get through the mile you’re in and then focus on the next. Having a mantra can help pull you through a tough stretch. Spend a little time before race day thinking of a few motivating mantras. Give it your all, believe in yourself, trust your training plan and finish knowing you persisted.

HAVE FUN: Remember to enjoy the experience. Don’t spend too much time focusing on the desired outcome. Maintaining a positive attitude throughout the race can make a huge difference not only in your experience but in your results as well. Being able to race is a privilege, so be sure to find ways to enjoy it!