Sunday, June 12, 2011

Don't Blow It: Race Day Preparations

I thought now might be a good time to share what I've learned about preparing for a race.  It's not just a matter of running, although that part is highly important.  There is actually a bit more to it than that.  Upon signing up for my first race, I did some research about dos and don'ts.  Here is what I have found:
  • Use the taper:  Tapering means that a week or so before your race, you need to taper down how much you run.  That seems to be backward logic and it makes the runner kind of nervous to be cutting down on the amount of running they do just before a big event, but they'll be happy they did.  "Tapering is designed to allow your body to recuperate, rebuild, and be fresh for race day."  For my 5K, I did this tapering thing.  I slowly brought down the amount of miles I ran in the week before the race and did NO running the day before the race.  I felt good and energized during that race, so I suppose tapering works.
  • Eat accordingly:  If you're planning on running a full marathon, I'd look up info on carb-loading to help you during that kind of endurance race. I don't know if carb-loading is really all that necessary for something like a 5K.   If you're planning on running a shorter race, please make sure that you're providing your body with the right stuff.  And don't throw weird stuff into your diet right before the race.  If you normally eat a bagel slathered with cream cheese right before a run, do the same thing on race day.  You don't want to all of the sudden ask your body to do something different after all that training.
  • Have you bought your tickets to the gun show?:  Do some other exercises to further strengthen your running muscles.  I find the most important ones, to me, to work on are the core muscles (abs).  I find that as I work these muscles, I can run straighter and it relieves some of the burden off my legs and allows me to breathe easier.
  • Get your gatorade on:  As a runner, you need to understand hydration very well.  I've watched videos of runners who simply collasped during a race because they kept skipping the water stations so they could get ahead.  Sports drinks like Gatorade are helpful, but make sure that whatever sports drink you choose matches the one they use in your race.  If it's different, just stick with water.  "The different brands of sports drinks contain varying amounts of carbs and electrolytes.  Some contain other components such as protein.  If you've not tried these products during training, you don't want to risk causing stomach issues on race day."  Now, just because you need to hydrate well does not mean you need to suck it down like a camel.  Too much water will just make you feel sick.  "Drink 16 oz. of water two hours before race time.  This will provide enough time for the water to pass through your system and the excess be voided well before the start."
  • Nighty night:  As should be obvious, get a good night's rest.  Try and get the usual 8 hours, but even if you don't, you should be okay as long as you got a decent amount of rest. 
  • Nice digs:  Make sure to wear something appropriate and comfortable.  "A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it's 15 degrees warmer than it really is."
  • Get siked:  Warming up is a great idea, but don't go hog wild.  As I mentioned in a previous post, stretching before a run or a race is no longer advisable.  What is better is to do 5-10 minutes of brisk walking and a few minutes of light jogging to warm you up.
  • Pace yourself:  While training, find your pace and during the race, stick to it.  Just because Johnny Long Legs passed you going what looked like 50 miles an hour doesn't mean you have to keep up with him. 
  • Soundtrack:  Get some running music that you run to.  Listen to it during every training run.  On the day of the race, before the race starts, listen to that music and you'll get your mind and body reeling to go.  Think of it as your soundtrack, not just your running mix.
  • Keep it together man!:  Whatever happens, crazy weather, last minutes race changes, illness, injury, just trust in your training.!

For more training info, follow the links to find special information on how to train for different races.

Training for a 5K
Training for a 10K
Training for a half or full marathon

Have tips that have worked for you?  Please share!  Leave a comment, become a follower, or email me at

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