After all your hard training, long runs, speed sessions, early mornings and hill sprints it is now time to get ready for race-day. Here are a few tips to ensure your race-day goes as smoothly as possible and you cross that finish line strong.
1. Enjoy the Taper
For some runners, taper time can be quite difficult. Since your body and mind are so use to the KMs, cutting back and resting may feel unusual. You may even find that you are getting bored. Just keep reminding yourself that Rest is Part of your Training.
2. Avoid too much Cross-Training
Although cross training is ok during taper time, it’s best to avoid lots of it. The taper is designed to allow your body to recuperate, rebuild, and be fresh for race day. Enjoy the rest and focus on getting yourself mentally prepared for the race.
3. Stick to what you Know
This is probably one of the most important points. Everything that you are using should be tried and tested. From “Before the run” to “Fuel During the Run” to “Hydration” to “What you are Wearing”. Nothing New on Race Day!!! A great time to practice to pick one of your longest runs and pretend that it is “Race day”.
4. Fuel Up
During the last three days before an endurance run such as a marathon, a runner’s carbohydrate intake should increase to 70 to 80 percent of his/her total daily intake. It is best to stick to things you know. Rice, Pasta, Bread, Potatoes are all great options. This is one time that “White” is better. However, just because you are “Carb” loading, doesn’t mean you are “Fat” loading as well. Stay away from cookies, pastries (Pies), fried and rich creamy sauces.
Hydration can make or break your race. Here are just a few hydration tips to use.
Make sure you know how many water stops there are during the race.
Find out what sport drinks will be provided during the race and try to train with the same one, if possible.
If you are training with a hydration pack or belt, please use it during your race.
Hydration should take place at least 48-hrs before your run. Just remind yourself that once your wee is clear, you are hydrated.
Drink at least 500ml of water before 2-hrs before your race time, this will allow the water to pass through your system before you begin.
6. Enjoy the Expo, but resist the Urge
Race expos are a lot of fun and there are so many cool things to look at…and buy. However, they’re usually full of booths selling everything from shoes, gels, gear, sports bars and drinks. By all means you can get some pretty awesome gear at the expos; however, never, never, never wear anything purchased at an expo on race day. This is just a disaster waiting to happen. Take advantage of the free samples too, just don’t use them on race day. Stick to what you know.
7. Dress appropriately
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve come across is the concept of a “Sacrificial Jumper”. Head to the local Opt shop and buy a cheap, but warm jumper, should cost you about $2-$3. Take the jumper home, wash it and wear it to the start line. Keep the jumper on while you warm up during your first few KMs, then discard it. I can guarantee, will be the best $2-$3 you will ever spend.
To avoid a panicked race-day morning, lay everything out that you will be wearing in the morning. You can even pin your bib number to your top. Just make sure everything is laid out and ready to go.
8. Warm Up
You should have some sort of stretching plan that you are already doing before your runs. It is important that you take the extra time on race-day to do your warm up stretches, and even a 3-5 minute light jog. You want to be limber but not worn out before the start.
9. Don’t go out too quickly
It’s very easy to get caught up in the beginning and start your runs too quickly. Your body will be filled with adrenaline and excitement. However, you should have a plan of attack and know exactly what your race pace is meant to be. A running coach will help you out with this. Or, you can look at following a pace runner. Ignore the speedsters around you; instead, focus on your race pace or even a slightly slower pace when the starting gun sounds. Around the half way marker you can start to pick up the pace if you still have it in you.
10. Trust and Believe in your Training
Be confident and have trust in your training. Believe that you have put in the hard yards; you’ve done everything in your power to get you to the start line 100% prepared. If that annoying voice of doubt begins to creep in, tell it to “Go Away”. If you let that seed of doubt enter your mind, it can very easily take control. Just keep positive and have trust and belief that you have put the training in.