You have decided to enter a race. You’ve selected your training plan and you are ticking off your runs.
But what if I told you that your race day is so much more than just crossing off each training run?
Nutrition and testing your gear before race day, are two common mistakes many runners make.
To ensure you have the best race possible, the two major factors that will make or break race day is your nutrition and your gear.
What we eat before, during and after our runs matter.
Not everyone can run fasted. Check out Stacey Sim’s blog on why women athletes shouldn’t fast.
The foods you choose to eat before your run will determine how well you will perform.
Nail race day nutrition and you will feel strong.
Yes, you will naturally feel fatigued after a long run, when you get your nutrition right during your training run, you won’t feel sluggish, have a headache or feel the need for a nap later in the day.
One of my favourite pre-run breakfasts is peanut butter on toast with banana.
When the nerves are too high, I will go with a yoghurt (in a pouch, because I’m more likely to eat the whole thing), and a banana.
Some people love overnight oats. I know that doesn’t work for me, as it will give me digestive issues later on.
Work out a list of safe foods, and stick with it, that way no matter where you go, you’ve got your pre-race breakfast sorted.
Practice Race Day Nutrition
Training runs are so much more than getting the distance in your legs.
It’s really important to practice your race-day nutrition.
Nutrition plays a vital role in longer-distance events, your half marathons, marathons and ultra.
Practice with different brands of gels, chews, and lollies, and if you are venturing into the ultra territory then work out what food items work for you.
While training for WTF, I discovered I go sick of ‘sweet’ things, but a tomato and cheese sandwich that I had packed in my drop bag, was heaven on my pallet.
On another training run, I tried a Revvie strip. Wow, I thought that was the most disgusting thing ever, so glad I tested it out in the long run. Needless to say, I got rid of the rest of the strips. They may work for some people, but not for me.
Test all your gear
The other thing you need to consider is testing all your gear during your long runs.
Never try anything new on race day, if you haven’t tested it in training, then don’t test it out on race day.
Test out all your gear, socks, underwear, shoes, packs etc.
This includes the gear you want to use on race day.
Maybe you discover that your favourite pair of socks give you blisters when they get wet.
Or that your t-shirt rubs on your arm and causes some serious chafing.
Chaffing is something you don’t want to have to experience. Eliminate the problem before race day, or source tools that will help to reduce the problem ie body glide or squirrel nut butter.
Six Things to Do during Race Week
- Hydrate and fuel your body. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids and eating plenty of carbohydrates in the days leading up to the race. This will help your body store energy and stay hydrated.
- Get a good night’s sleep. This is probably the most important thing you can do to prepare for race day. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep the night before the race.
- Do a shakeout run. A short, easy run the day before the race will help you loosen up your muscles and get your body ready for the big day.
- Lay out your gear. Make sure you have everything you need for the race, and lay it all out the night before so you don’t have to scramble in the morning. This includes your running shoes, socks, clothes, race bib, and any other gear you’ll need.
- Visualize your success. Take some time to visualize yourself crossing the finish line. This will help you stay positive and motivated on race day.
- Relax and stay calm. It’s normal to feel some anxiety before a race, but try to relax and stay calm. Listen to some music, read a book, or do whatever helps you relax.
Five things to do on Race Day
- Don’t try anything new on race day. Stick to the same foods, drinks, and running routine that you’ve been using in training. Learn from my mistake.
- Get to the race early. This will give you plenty of time to park, check-in, and use the bathroom.
- Warm up properly. A good warm-up will help prevent injuries and get your body ready to race.
- Listen to your body. If you’re feeling pain, stop and rest. Don’t push yourself too hard.
- Have fun! This is a big accomplishment, so enjoy the moment and celebrate your success.