Pre-Race Tips

I’ve had several people ask me questions about what to do the week before the race.  While I’m not an expert, I’ve learned some things from the races I’ve run and the articles I’ve read.  Here are some of my basic tips for Pre-Race Week:

Prepare the night before:  Lay out clothes, shorts, shirts, socks, shoes, etc., everything you will need for race day.  Do this the night before and it will ease your mind throughout the night. If you are running a marathon see “Marathon Packing List” under the Resources tab.

Tried and true clothing:  Wear comfortable clothes that you’ve worn before.  Do not wear anything new, especially for a long race.  Race day is never a time to break in a new pair of shoes.  Wearing new clothes, socks or shoes could produce undesired effects that you don’t need in a race.

Don’t over dress:  Dress as if the weather is 15 degrees warmer.  I just ran a race on Saturday where the temp at the start time was around 58 degrees, halfway through the 10k, I saw many with jackets tied around their waists.  As you do your warm up and begin running, your core temperature will rise and you will feel warmer.

Don’t wear your race shirt:  By the way, there is something called Race Shirt Etiquette out there.  One cardinal rule is you only have the right to wear your race shirt when you finish the race.  It’s a code of ethics among runners.  You earned it.  Wear it with pride (just after the race, not during).  As for me, I unknowingly broke a rule last weekend.  I brought a gun to a knife fight.  I wore my Chicago Marathon shirt to a local 5K/10K race.  Not the best thing to do.  If you want a great post on race shirt etiquette, check out the posting on Bad Ben’s Ramblings site called Proper T-Shirt Etiquette.

Have bib and timing chip ready:  I laid out my bib and chip the night before my race last week only to wake up in the morning and find it gone.  As I frantically searched the kitchen, my heart rate skyrocketed.  I soon discovered that my wonderful wife cleaned up the kitchen and my precious, perfectly laid out race essentials were moved to the other side of the house.  Needless to say, place them where they will be found the next morning.

Run the course:  Running the course helps you familiarize yourself with the layout, the hills, and what the last stretch looks and feels like.  Today, Kendis and I ran the 5K course she will be running in a race this Saturday.  She got a good feel on a few key spots where she can take it easy and also got a good sense of how the last straight-away will feel as she plans her final kick.

Eat right:  Eat healthy, carb-rich meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but don’t overeat.  It’s called a carb-load, not overload.  Eat until you are full (oatmeal, potatoes, pasta).  By the way, don’t try any new foods for a few days prior to the race.

Drink right:  Stay hydrated throughout the day.  Get your body going by drinking water immediately when you wake up in the morning.  It jump starts your system.

Bib placement:  Bib goes on the front, usually lower on your chest, not up by your chin.  Don’t put it on your back (one reason simply are the photos that are often taken in a race.  Some races will post pictures based on the bib number which makes it easy to find you.)

Line up in the proper place.  One of my biggest pet peeves in a race is having to dodge slow runners for the first half mile.  If you run at an 8:00 minute pace, get up near the front.  If you will be walking after 5 minutes, stay in the back.  You will enjoy it more and so will others around you.

Most of all, enjoy the event.  Have fun, regardless if it’s your first or fiftieth race.  I was so nervous about my first race I wasn’t able to enjoy it.  Take time to let all the fun aspects of the event sink in, and remember that you won simply because you showed up and gave it your best!

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