In less than three weeks I will be celebrating my 4th anniversary of when I took on the challenge to become a runner. I actually began training eight weeks prior to this date, but I use my first 5K race I ever participated in as my running anniversary date. The reason, I never really considered myself a runner until I ran my first race. Looking back I know differently, but trust me, I can remember the day like it was yesterday.
During the past 48 months I have learned a few lessons about racing, having tackled every distance from the mile to the marathon. Below are some tips I have practiced along the way that may help make your race day a little less nerve wracking.
These are just a few tips to consider before running your big event. But understand, as my former running coach once said, "You're only as good as you are on that particular day, at that particular time, on that particular course, under those particular circumstances" so don't beat yourself up too much if your race doesn't match up to those in the past. Each race brings its own set of challenges, but the most important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy the experience.
- It's OK to take it easy, activity-wise, a day or two before your race. Your goal is to toe the starting line with the freshest legs possible. The amount of taper will vary according to the distance you are running, but never underestimate the power of a good rest day before your race.
- Get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your race. Do not worry if you do not sleep well the night before a race, however, make certain you get plenty of rest in the days leading up to that night. Many runners will suffer from insomnia the night before a race, but do not worry, adrenaline is amazing at helping us push past any race day fatigue.
- Stay off your feet the day before a long race. You want to arrive at your race with the freshest legs possible so make sure the day before your big event that you do as little walking as possible. This is primarily for those running longer distances, such as a half-marathon and marathon.
- Do not try any new foods or drinks the night before or the day of the race. Now is not the time to sample new dinner or breakfast foods. Trying something new before a race can lead to stomach issues which can be the difference between a good race and a not so good race.
- Do not wear any new running gear the day of the race. The rule in racing is not to do or try anything new on race day, this includes wearing new running shoes, new shorts, new shirts, even a new sports bra and socks.
- Do not try a new refueling source the day of the race or during the race itself. Many races, less than a 10K distance, may not offer refueling sources on the course, but if your race does, make sure you have practiced using it during your training. Trying something new, such a Gu or Cytomax, may lead to gastro-intestinal issues which can cause issues during the race itself.
- Arrive early so that you do not have to rush to get to the starting line. This is especially true for bigger races where parking can be a premium. Allow yourself a good hour to park, check in your gear if you need to, hit the porta-lets and do a nice warm-up.
HAPPY SPARK RUNNING!
As a runner or walker, do you have any other tips to share? What mistakes have you made in the past that you have learned from?