Having run countless running events all over the world, I have picked up a few strategies to ensure I have a good day out on race day. And with the city's biggest running event happening this Sunday, here are a few tips to ensure you have a great race!
1. BE ORGANISED! It sounds simple but it is surprising how many people only check some of the finer details about the race the night before! If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me less than 12 hours before; "what time does the race start?", "How do I get to the start line?", "how do I get my race bib?" … Ensure you check all of these details at least 5 days before the event to allow for planning and talking to others if you want to go together or collect your bibs as a team. Most of the time, transport is limited, the race starts early and you have to collect your bib before race day so it pays to be organized and not stressed the morning of the race!
2. DON'T EAT ENOUGH TO FEED A SMALL COUNTRY THE DAY BEFORE! I know but "carb loading" right? Wrong! The quote I live and die by as a runner is "If you haven't practiced it-don't start now!". No matter your race distance-you should never do anything in the immediate lead up to the race that you have not done before. So, hopefully if you are doing a half marathon or full marathon you should have practiced your eating in and around training runs and will know what you feel best doing. I see and hear so many people talking about what they are going to eat the day before (like it is their last supper) and then it invariable ends with gastric disaster the next day. Unless you're trying to win the event-usually you wont need to change too much about your diet in the lead up to race day. Increase your water and magnesium intake and have some low GI good quality carbohydrates (like sweet potato for example) but it's not the time to go crazy!
3. ENSURE YOU GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP TWO NIGHTS BEFORE! Most people spend the night before a big race stressing about trying to get a good night's sleep that they end up having a bad one! The truth is that with having to wake up early, nerves, excitement and maybe even not sleeping in your own bed if you travelled to the event that you probably wont get one of your best sleep's ever. But if you can ensure you had a really good rest two night's before the race (ie Friday night for a Sunday run) then this should put you in good stead for race day even if your pre race sleep is a little broken. So don't stress and be happy with the sleep you DO get!
4. DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE ATMOSPHERE AND RUN HARDER THAN USUAL AT THE START! I have done this many times and I can tell you-it never ends well. Its really easy to get caught up in the buzz and excitement of everyone around you when the gun goes off but keep a check on your speed and ensure that you are going at a pace that you feel comfortable with and that is making you exert yourself straight away. By pushing too hard at the front end when you get into the pointy end of proceedings you will have nothing "left in the tank" and when doing a longer race this can often lead to hitting the proverbial wall. It is much better to pace yourself and let people pass you at the start and then overtake people as the race progresses then to be the one being overtaken at the end!
5. HAVE A PLAN FOR AFTER THE RACE! Just like being organized for before the race it is also important to have a plan and be organized for post race. Often it is chaos in the recovery zone or where your supporters can meet you and many times it can be hard to get your hands on some food and or water after you finish, so check out the race precinct map before the race and find a meeting point and discuss this with your friends and family so they know where to meet you after, phones lines can get jammed with so much use in the one area so you can't always call so having a spot pre-organised can be a great relief. And then ensure that either in your checked in bag or with your family and friends you have a bottle of water and some small items of food to tide you over post race and make sure you don't get too "Hangry". These small areas of organization can often ensure that you continue to enjoy the race atmosphere and not get stressed or upset and just bask in the running endorphins that follow such an epic event!
So, if you implement some of these items into your pre-race prep and look after yourself in the lead up to and during the race you are guaranteed to enjoy every minute and have the race of your life-and you will be crossing that finish line with a big grin and asking "when's the next one?"
Happy Running and good luck this Sunday!*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.