The day of your big run can be pretty daunting if you’re not too sure what you’re doing. Whether it’s your first 5k or your 10th marathon, follow these tips and tricks to make the most out of your race day.
DO get there early.
The last thing you want on race day is to get to the race village late and spend your last minutes before the gun goes off, running around and stressing, trying to get yourself sorted. Aim to get to the event at least an hour before the race officially starts so you have ample time to warm up and get used to your surroundings before going into the starting pen.
DON’T eat less than an hour before the start.
Your pre-race breakfast should take place about 90–120 mins before the starters gun goes off, to give yourself enough time to digest and process your food. If you eat too close to the start, you’ll feel sluggish and lethargic as you run and put yourself at risk of getting cramps.
DO plan out how you’re going to run.
There are countless different ways to run a running race. It’s important to come up with your own strategy for how you’re going to do it. Are you going to go easy off the start until your legs are fully warmed up and then you’ll start to put the pressure on? Are you going to go off at a maintainable pace and then hold it for the entirety of the race? These are all questions to ask yourself in training so you can come up with a race plan to maximise your run.
DON’T forget to stretch before the race.
A proper warm-up is crucial in ensuring that a run goes well. Stretching properly will get the blood pumping in your legs and loosen your muscles and tendons. Not only will this heavily prevent the chance of injury, but will also help to relax you before the race starts.
DO make the most of the water stations.
Races will almost always have plenty of water and food stations around the course so you keep yourself hydrated and topped up on energy. Running with a water bottle is cumbersome and can throw off your gait (your running technique) so try and keep yourself topped up with water whenever you can.
DON’T tense up and overthink it.
Even though adrenaline can help performance, tensing up and getting worried about it won’t. You’ll want to stay as relaxed as you can to ensure a comfortable and sustainable run. Take some deep breaths while you’re on the start line to calm yourself down a bit before that gun goes off.
DO bring some support.
Running is much more fun if you do it with a friend so try and drag a buddy in to join you. Why not also bring some family along with you for support? Hearing someone cheer your name while you’re running can provide a nice morale boost and know that there’s someone at the finish line for you is a nice bit of motivation.
DON’T go off too fast.
It’s very easy to get over-excited on the start line and go off way too fast, spend all your pennies and then struggle for the rest of the race. This is why it’s so important to plan your run so that you can avoid the ‘fly and die’ method of racing. Try and start at a slower, sustainable pace so you have more energy in reserve that you can spend later.
DO have a small warm down.
Much like before a warm-up before your race, a proper warm-down is essential for racing well. You will have put your body through a pretty strenuous task so make sure you kick-start your recovery with a good warm down. Try and walk around a bit to ease the lactic acid out of your legs and prevent cramps and then have a lie down and do some stretches to stop your muscles from seizing up.