With less than 3 weeks until the big day I am reminding myself of some tips I have picked up over the years. What works for me won’t work for everyone but maybe see what you think and adapt them to you personally!
During your training you should practice something that works for you. Don’t leave it until race day as you need to know how your body will cope with what you feed it.. Not only that practicing eating/drinking it while running can help to prepare you for the big day!
Its also important to correctly fuel the days leading up to the race as well as the morning of the race. Check out my Carbohydrates to fuel your runs! How much? post to help guide you with a starting point to work from! Everyone is different.
My tried and tested routine is a bowl of porridge with banana and peanut butter. I have a smaller bowl than I would on a normal day.
I have now tested some tailwind, a fuel that you can drink. I used half a sachet in a pint of water which I drunk over an hour and then the other half in my water which I sipped throughout my run. It seems to be my winning formula so far!
Hydration is essential
On race day there is water stations at intervals throughout your run. Depending on the size and whereabouts can depend on if this will be handed out in bottles or plastic cups… have you tried drinking out of a cup whilst running? Its hard enough from a bottle that isn’t a sports one!
If I take my own bottle I make it one that can be thrown away or I fill my sports bottle with the water handed out. Its a practiced technique that I have mastered over the years… I will be adding Tailwind to my water this time!
Its also important to try and keep water levels topped up, through your training and in the lead up to the race, especially the day before race day!
What to wear?
This will obviously vary depending on the weather…. but its not something to be experimented with on race day. Wear something you know you will be comfortable in and isn’t going to rub or cause any issues.
I have always run in my running leggings and a vest but over the summer months I have found shorts so much more comfortable. As it gets colder I need to see if this is still going to be the same for me but I’m thinking with compression socks or calf sleeves its likely it will be more than warm enough once I get going.
I have made many wardrobe malfunctions over my training… from underwear to layers to just generally not comfortable clothing. I prefer them to be loose and minimal so have found shorts and a vest more than comfortable with socks that are not so thick my trainers become tight but not likely to slip off as I run.
I discovered the wonder of compression sleeves in the last week of my training… why I had not tried them sooner I do not know. They have really helped my calves that I was suffering with whilst running. I have continued to wear them after my runs for a few hours too just to help them recover a little.
Vaseline your feet
A tip I was once given by my brother in law and I’ve never had a blister since… touching all the wood in sight now. Seriously though it works a treat. I also like to use blister plasters on areas that are likely to be prone to blisters during races as an extra precaution… or maybe carry some and the first sign of one developing put it on! Can also help with areas prone to chaffing! I now have some chaffing balm which is a little easier to apply!
My essentials for my kit bag
- A bin bag!!!! To wear while you wait to start if like me you prefer to run in very little clothing during the colder months
- A cold drink
- A jumper
- Change of shoes i.e. flip flops
- A snack in case the race you enter has a naff goodie bag… I was once greeted with a packet of dried spaghetti and no money to buy anything!!!
- Some cash
- Deodorant and baby wipes
- Safety pins
- Fully charged watch/phone if your going to track and pace your run
- Vaseline/anti chaffing balm
- Hand towel in case your particularly sweaty or soaking wet from the rain
(I hope I haven’t missed anything as this is my checklist for race day)
Race day timings
Make sure you fully absorb start times and allow plenty of time to arrive, use the toilet, drop off your bag, possibly collect your race number if its not being posted out to you, and get to your start position.
This is usually staggered based on what you hope to complete it in. Bigger races will put you into sections to stagger the start times and prevent a huge pile up!
It is likely roads will be closed and extremely busy so its worth while planning your journey time and adding a bit to allow for delays. Also for parking. Not every where will have somewhere to park so its worth looking in to. Some will have bookable parking available others its a case of parking on the streets. Make sure you know so you have no nasty surprises.
Most races have pacers. Sometimes they can be a little hard to follow during a busy race but if your lucky to get near one with a time you’d like then stick with them. You’ll be pleased you did! But just factor in how long after them you crossed the starting line.
I managed to get a sub 2:00hrs when I followed a pacer and kept with one that was 2:00hrs and the last mile I passed them and picked up my pace. This technique works for me as I reserve enough energy to power out the last mile!
I plan to split my run into 3 mile goals and run negative splits to help warm up and prevent me going out too quickly. I will have it written on my hand as a guide to easily glance at. Maths is not my strong point when I’m in the middle of a race and to be honest all the problems I have had with watches and technology I think its my safest bet!
I like to familiarise myself with the route. Obviously not to memorise it as come the day that will all disappear in the reality of what you are about to take on, but its good to know if its likely to be a hilly route and what the terrain is likely to be like. If you live close by then having a trial run even better!
Keep your nerve
Practice some relaxation techniques… I’m still working on this. I find them very nerve wracking waiting at the start line with the overwhelming amount of people there but remember you are all in the same boat and there is no one more supportive than another runner!
There is something about the pressure of times and your spectators to make your heart race but use this to fuel your run. The adrenaline will get you round if nothing else…
Most importantly make sure you enjoy it. Breath in the atmosphere, smile at the crowds and let them help you round.