Top Tips for Race Week

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It’s race week. You’re questioning everything. You’re a little tired. Hungry. Nervous. Kind of excited. But most of all, just want Sunday to get here as soon as possible.

I’ve been there.

Kourtney NOLA Half

And I’ve come out the other side just fine many times, and so will you. In the past five years, I’ve run countless races, and learned something at each one. I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t, as well as what works for my clients and what doesn’t. While everyone is a little bit different, there are some universal truths that ring true for all racers. And with that:

Top Tips for Race Week

  • Don’t freak out.

It may seem like you are losing your mind this week. You’re not. Get in your workouts, get in a shakeout run on Saturday morning, trust your training. Eat well, eat carbs, hydrate, and sleep. Everything is going to be fine.

  • Take it easy Saturday.

It’s really easy to head down to the expo and spend two or three hours wandering around grabbing free stuff. Don’t. Pick up your race packet, check out a few vendors that you’re interested in, and get the heck out. Most race expos are held in convention centers, which means you’re walking around on a concrete floor. Which is stressful on your feet, your legs, and your body. Not what you want for the day before your race, right? So get in, get out, and then go chill.

  • Hydrate.

This applies not only to Saturday especially, but your entire week leading up to the race. Be just a little more conscious of your drinking. Make sure you carry water with you everywhere so you’re not caught without it for long periods of time. Especially the 48 hours before the race, start to alternate water and a carb source, such as Gatorade. You want to be hydrated, but you also don’t want to pee out all your good stuff either. (I’m a Gatorade girl, but I have also recently started using VitargoFX and I am obsessed with it. I’d definitely recommend checking it out for the cleanest and most tested fuel on the market right now.)

Note that again, you want to make sure you start hydrating early in the week. Your body can’t catch up and be ready if you just start Saturday morning. I can’t emphasize that enough!

  • Get some sleep.

Again, this applies to your entire race week. I typically have a hard time sleeping more than about four hours the night before a race anyway, so it’s super important to make sure that I get to bed early all week long so that lack of sleep isn’t as big of a deal come race day. Make sleep a priority.

  • Give yourself enough time in the morning to not be rushed.

You know your running routine. You’ve been training for weeks or months, and you know exactly how much time you need before you head out for your run. Make sure you have that much time, plus an extra 30 minutes, just in case.

Plan for eating – same as always.

Plan for bathroom – you know you’re going to need this at least once. Maybe once at home and once at the race start. You don’t want to be headed off the course at mile 1.

Plan for parking – check the maps ahead of time to know where the available parking is, and how long it will take you to walk from there to the race start. Know where the port-a-potties are, as well as the gear check. Give yourself enough time to hit all of those things and get to your start corral on time.

You don’t want to feel rushed! It’s no fun to be stressed about starting on time.

  • Do everything you’ve been doing in training.

Do not change a single thing. Don’t switch up any of your clothing or gear. Wear all of your favorite stuff that you’ve tested out on training runs. You don’t want to have anything new and annoying popping up, or worse, chafing.

Side note: Don’t wear your race shirt, guys. That’s for afterward. 1 – Because of what I just mentioned, and 2 – it’s just a faux pas.

Don’t change your strategy, your fueling, nothing. No matter what you see at the expo that sounds so awesome and you really want to try it – resist the urge! Try it later, not on race day.

  • Pace!

Not many people realize how incredibly important this really is. Your race will be so much more successful if you can tap into the right pacing. So, make sure you start slow. Like, a lot slower than you want to. A lot slower than you thought you would. And definitely a lot slower than everyone around you. Trust me, you will be passing every single one of those people by mile 5.

Shoot for 30 seconds to a minute slower than your goal pace for at least the first mile, then go from there. You want to shoot for negative splits, and you want to make sure you have gas in the tank to really crush it the last 5k. If you can keep your pace a little slower for the first 5k, you will find the entire rest of the race to be a lot easier. Consider using a pace band or either a GPS or just regular stopwatch to track your mile splits. It’ll help you stay on track.

  • Don’t freak out.

Obviously, I can’t stress this enough. Have some freaking fun! Enjoy your race! Enjoy the experience. The spectators with funny signs, the folks who are running next to you, the scenery. Relish your accomplishment, because no matter what happens, it is an accomplishment!

With these tips, you are pretty much guaranteed to have a rockin’ race day. Get out there and have a great time, and let me know how your race goes!