Training for an event is obviously important, but what can you do to ensure that you have a smooth race day after all of your hard work? Below is a pre-race checklist for the day before and the morning of the event to ensure that your race day goes smoothly.
The Day Before:
Ensure that you know what time you need to arrive for the event. What time does your warm up start (if there is one) or when does your wave set off? How are you getting to the event and how long will it take you to get to the starting area? If you are relying on public transport, how frequent are the buses, trams or trains on the way to the event. How are you getting home afterwards? Planning ahead helps to minimize race day stress.
Fill out the back of your race number with the required information. The back of your race number will as for any medical conditions to be provided and also an emergency contact name and number. It is vital that the details are filled out in case of an emergency.
Attach race number to your top
I tend to do this before putting my top on, as I find it a little easier this way and you can ensure that your number is in the middle. I started off using the safety pins provided, however they used to leave marks in my clothing so I purchased some race clips. The clips were a bit harder to put on, and required holes cutting into the corners of my race number, but they left no permanent marks on my tops. I then invested in the most expensive method, magnets. The magnets are great as they are easy to attach and leave no marks at all, however they are a little pricey
Prepare your race fuelling
Pack your gels, water bottle or any other fuelling items that you may require during the race. All of these items should have been tested during training runs to ensure that there are no adverse effects on race day.
Plan and prepare your clothing
Take a look at the weather forecast and lay out your clothing ahead of time. The same principle applies here as to the fuelling section… nothing new on race day! When completing a run longer than half marathon distance, or if aiming for a personal best, it is best to avoid running in clothing which has not been trialled and tested during training runs as it may not be comfortable for an extended period of time. New items may chafe or cause irritation. Preparing your gear ahead of time ensures that you are ready on the day of the event and not stressing about getting all of your items together.
Eat a nutritional, high carbohydrate meal
Being vegetarian I often opt for a Quorn Bolognese with whole-wheat pasta so that I get protein and complex carbohydrates. Carbs are converted to glycogen by the body and are used by the muscles for energy. Loading up on carbs the day before a race ensures that your body has enough energy stores for the event. I wouldn’t fancy trying anything new here either, just in case it causes any stomach upset the next day.
Drink plenty of water
This is an important point anyway, however it is especially important the day before a run as your body is going to lose water in the form of sweat. The body uses water to transport nutrients to your cells and remove waste. Water also helps to form the structures of protein and glycogen. Dehydration causes muscles to be deprived of electrolytes and can cause muscle cramping.
The Morning of the Event:
Ensure that you have a nutritional breakfast, preferably with slow releasing carbohydrates. My go-to race day breakfast is porridge with a banana – if I have to travel for over an hour to the event, then I will save the banana to eat around 20 minutes before the start of the race. Remember, nothing new on race day.
Have a glass of water or squash first thing in the morning. Drinking in the morning may also help you visit the bathroom before the start of your run! I try to avoid drinking a lot around 30 minutes before the race as it can make my stomach feel bloated and uneasy. If I do drink close to the start of the race, I just sip at my water or sports drink.
I arrive early for everything, so race days are no different. I like to ensure that I have time to get to the start line and I’m not left rushing around trying to find somewhere to park or waiting for my bus to arrive! Arriving early gives you time to find where you need to be, drop off any bags you may have, and use the toilet before you start. I get pre-race nerves and find myself using the toilet a lot on the morning of a big run.
Dress for mile 3 and not mile 1. It’s better to be a little cold at the starting line than sweating and overheating a mile or two into the race. Carrying excess clothing can be a pain, so if you do want to wear an extra layer when waiting at the start, you may want to consider wearing an old jacket that you don’t mind discarding.
Most races have charities who collect the leftover clothing from runners and either use it as charity shop stock, or donate it to the homeless. I’m a big fan of arm warmers as they keep me warmer at the starting area, but are easy to remove and put in my running pouch when I have warmed up.
Set Multiple Goals
Entering a race with a goal time in mind is quite common, however it can be beneficial to have multiple goal targets just in case the conditions on the day are not great. I like to have gold, silver and bronze goals. For example, at the moment, gold would be running a half sub-2:40, silver would be sub-2:42 and bronze would be getting sub-2:43 as my current personal best is 2:42:53. In an ideal scenario, sub-2:40 would be my main aim, however with bad weather or if I felt unwell, then sub-2:42 would be great. If there were multiple mitigating factors then finishing around my personal best would still be an achievement.