There’s nothing like the anticipation of race day. The miles you’ve run in preparation for the big event on your LIVESTRONG 10.0t treadmill are behind you. But while your training may have come to an end, you still have work to do if you want to succeed on race day.
Whether you’ll be running, cycling, swimming or all three, the choices you make in the days before a race can make the difference between a positive and negative experience. Following these tips will leave you as prepared as possible, and grinning all the way to the finish line.
1. Trust your training plan. In the last few weeks before a race, a training plan will call for a “taper.” Tapering means you shorten the length and possibly the intensity of your workouts in order to help your legs recover from a demanding training schedule, and make them fresh for race day.
Not doing long, tough workouts in the final weeks before your race can be mentally tough for athletes, but resist the urge to do a few extra miles. Your body will thank you during the race.
2. Don’t try anything new. Don’t break in a new pair of shoes on race day unless you want blisters. Instead, start training in the shoes you’ll wear during the race at least few weeks before the big day. Similarly, don’t race in your event shirt or any other new clothes. New apparel may appear comfortable, but there’s no way to know beforehand if it will cause chafing or other problems. Do a test run or two in your race day outfit to make sure it works.
As with clothing and equipment, a race is no time to experiment with food. Don’t “carbo load” the night before your event unless you’ve been eating carbohydrate-heavy meals throughout your training. If you regularly eat a carbohydrate-rich diet with variety, you’ll likely have enough energy. Try out your pre-event meals in the weeks before race day to see how various foods affect your stomach. This way you’ll avoid digestive problems – and possibly extra bathroom breaks – during the event.
3. Set out your clothes and other race essentials the night before. Make a checklist early in the week and use it to make sure you have everything. Going to a destination race? Pack your bag early and double check your gear. Note that many triathlons will not let you compete without a wet suit or a bike helmet.
4. Rest up. Sleep is essential in the days leading up to a race, and so is conserving your energy. Don’t spend the entire day before your race at the expo; you don’t want to tire your legs out before the start.
5. Be familiar with the course. Studying the course map and elevation (often available on the race’s website) before the race gun goes off can be invaluable. You may reconsider sprinting to the finish if you know the last mile is uphill.
6. Start slowly. Pre-race jitters and excitement may cause you to start out too fast, causing burnout in later miles. Instead, take a few deep breaths and start at an easy, comfortable pace.
7. Stay hydrated. Begin hydrating two days before the race, and drink up during the event too. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking five to 12 ounces of water or sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes during a marathon.
8. Have fun! There are a lot of tips and suggestions and instructions to keep in mind, but don’t forget that race day is a celebration of your hard work and dedication. Soak up the excitement and enjoy the trip to the finish.
What are your best tips for race day success?