After months of training, it’s finally here. It’s race day and you are freaking #pumped to hit the pavement and crush a PR alongside hundreds, or thousands, of other fellow runners. Last night, you planned out your outfit, maybe even snapped a photo of it to share on social, and packed your goodies on the table so you can just hit the road. Girl, you are good to go.
Maybe you’re running a 5k/10k, maybe you’re running your first half or maybe you’re a vet and are on your 3rd full. No matter what type of race day it is, I always make sure to do the following 10 things on race day.
1. Leave Early
If you’re like me, the drive to the race venue is worse than waiting for the actual gun to go off. The last thing you want to happen is to get stuck in traffic, or lost, so do yourself a favor and give yourself plenty of time to get to the race.
I always plan to arrive to races at least 1 hour before the start. This gives me plenty of time to find parking, get myself to the start line, do some stretching and hit the port-o-potties. You never want to feel rushed on race day and you’ll feel at ease getting their early and scoping out the competition!
2. Eat a Light Breakfast
Make sure to either eat a light breakfast before you leave or pack it with you to eat on the way. Good choices for a pre-race breakfast are crackers, light cereal or bananas. I typically only eat a banana before a race because I prefer to run on a semi-empty stomach.
Listen to your body and eat what you feel will give you the most energy, without any discomfort. I recommend staying away from dairy, cheese, coffee and sugar as these could cause issues during your run.
3. Drink Pre-Workout
Pre-workout is my go-to miracle drink before a race. It makes me feel unstoppable and puts me in the mindset that I can push past anything. It might be in my head, but every time I drink it before a race I crush a PR… so it’s now a must for my race day ritual.
There are tons of pre-workouts out there on the market, but make sure to test out what one works the best for your body. And of course, check the nutrition labels to make sure there is no added chemicals or ingredients. I prefer organic pre-workouts without the added caffeine. This will help give you that extra energy without causing you to crash an hour later.
4. Go to the Bathroom
This one is might be the most important thing to remember. Like I said, I get super nervous on race day and TMI but I hit up the bathroom a good 2-3 times before my system calms down. Make sure to go to the port-o-potties before the race, even if you don’t have to. The last thing you want is to have the urge to go when you are running.
And if you are running more than a 10k, never trust a fart… I will just leave it at that.
5. Dynamic Stretching
Making sure your muscles are warm BEFORE the gun goes off is crucial to your form during the race. Not to mention, your recovery after. Instead of standing still and stretching, try moving around and really getting those muscles warm and ready to go.
If you don’t know what stretches to do, take a look around and see what your fellow runners are doing. I typically see a new stretch every race that I try to add to my routine. Listen to your body and start with the areas that you feel the most tight – and don’t forget about the arms!
6. Pace Yourself
When the gun goes off, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the atmosphere and sprint out of the gate. But if you’re not used to the pace you are running at in the beginning, your body can tire out fast. Do yourself a favor and pace yourself throughout the race. Sure, your pace will be slightly faster on race day than on your training days, but don’t go faster than 45 seconds than what you trained at. If you are feeling strong towards the finish, that is when you can step on the gas!
7. Sprint to the Finish
As soon as you see that finish line, have your eye on the prize baby! You are in the home stretch and the fact that you are THAT CLOSE to crossing that line will give you an extra burst of excitement and energy. Give it all you got and put the pedal to the metal!
I love to choose a runner who is in front of me and sprint to beat them across the finish. This adds a little friendly competition and allows me to push myself to really earn that medal. Not to mention, often makes for sick finisher photos because you’ll have a look of determination across your face!
8. Take a Medal Selfie
Girl, you earned it. Wear that medal loud and proud and snap a selfie of with that bad boy at the finish! Don’t hold back on sharing it on social media either, let everyone know what you just accomplished when they were, most likely, still sleeping!
If you’re on a running streak and are racking up the medals, hit up AcMoore and create yourself a medal holder to showcase all of your hard work! I created mine for less than $10 and was able to make it fully custom to what I wanted!
9. Thank your Supporters
Don’t forget to thank those who came with you and cheered you on as you crossed that finish line. They woke up early, sat in the cold, waited at the finish for 30 minutes to 2+ hours for you to finish and shared in your excitement as you earned your medal. Did they have to show up? No. But they did, because they knew it was important to you.
10. Victory Meal
You earned this one. Your body is probably feeling hungry after that race and you owe it to yourself to fuel it with a delicious and nutritious meal. Instead of going straight for the sugar loaded foods, choose foods that will fill you up and replenish the nutrients you lost during the race. Carbs, proteins, fruits and veggies are where the fuel is at and won’t have you feeling sluggish later in the day.
My favorite after race snack is usually a Philly soft pretzel (it’s always my favorite when they hand them out at the post-race party) with a side of a vegan chocolate protein shake! As for my “reward” meal, my family likes to stop by WaWa on the way home to pick up fresh hoagies – veggie hoagie with avocado and fire roasted red peppers is where it is AT! Oh, and maybe another soft pretzel #noguilthere
Do you have any rituals or superstitions on race day? Comment them below!