This one is for the beginners, because if you’re already a seasoned runner, you know exactly what to do and what not to do. Just before your race your excitement is at it’s optimum (peaking a little more once you clock a great PR or win hands down). In that haze of adrenaline it is imperative that you don’t do a few things that may seem right at that time.
Let’s start with the dreaded don’ts:
Overeat & Overhydrate
Over-eating will not give you extra energy, and overhydrating will only make life more difficult for you. Stick to the routines you have been training with, drink water gradually, and eat a light meal (dinner the night before and breakfast on race day).
Wear new apparel or shoes
If you try new clothes/shoes on race day, chances are they will feel slightly odd, could be very uncomfortable and in the case of shoes, cause you a lot of pain. So always give yourself a chance to try out your race kit in advance, over the course of a couple of training sessions.
Try new food or nutrition plan
one thing you should never do is try a new carb drink, gel or solid food on race day. Make sure whatever you eat/consume on race day is something you’ve used it in training and are happy with.
It’s natural to get nervous on the day of the race, but remind yourself – a little nervousness is ok, full blown panic – not so much. Try to keep your mind calm and tell yourself that you’ve trained hard for this day and it’s just a race. You are a winner already for participating.
Now that we’ve covered a major part of what you shouldn’t do on race day, let’s focus on what you should be doing right.
important to take 5-10 minutes to warm up your muscles – much as you probably already do before any training session.
Make a Checklist
Get a pen and paper and write a checklist of everything you need to take to the race. Mentally run through the entire race. Try to visualise any ’emergencies’ and what you would need to deal with them. Don’t be afraid to write a very long list at first then rationalise it – much better to do it that way than to rush ahead and miss something vital!
No matter how you feel on the day of the race, you must make sure that you eat before you run. Even if you’re a nervous wreck and don’t feel like you can stomach anything. The timing of when you eat is essential as much as your food. Eat 3-4 hours before a race to give yourself enough time to digest it and shake off the heavy feeling. This means that you need to wake up at the crack of down and get yourself a powerboosting meal. This could include a sandwich, fruit or eggs whites. Alternatively you could stick to eating all that you have been during your training.
These should definitely see you through your first race. Of course, nothing works as well as experience. In a little while you will be a pro at knowing all these do’s and don’ts.