Running & Fitness

Race Day Strategies

Meredith O’Brien
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Hi everyone, it’s Meredith from over at FitNiceRunner.  I’m a USA Track and Field Level I Coach, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and super excited to be here again.

Training for a race takes a lot of time and effort and there’s nothing worse than working hard for a race day that doesn’t end the way we want.  Here are some of my favorite tips for runners who are preparing to run their best from Start to Finish.

A big part of running your best race is to realize that race day actually begins long before you’ve picked up your number.  Planning and practice are key elements of a good performance.  These are a few things to do before race day arrives so you can put your best foot forward.

Practice Hydration & Fuel

Practice with different sources of hydration on training runs and test out different fuels for both before and during the race to make sure you know what’s best for your body.  Compare hydrating with water versus as sports drink.  Try eating a gel versus a bar on those long training outings.  Learning how your insides respond to different nourishment means avoiding digestive issues, staying hydrated and giving yourself the best chance you can to put together the race you want.

Study the Course

As race weekend approaches, study the course.  If you know what’s coming at you, you can mentally and physically prepare for it.  What mile brings the hills and which ones are flat?  Is it out-and-back, point-to-point or a loop?  Where are the hydration stops, Port-a-Potties and gels?  How about the bands?  Are you going to need your own music?  Anything can happen out there and it’s important know what support will be around you on the course.

Rest Up

Once you’ve nailed down your race day hydration and fueling plan and learned the course, take the final few days before race morning to rest up and prepare your body to work hard.  Tapering, carb loading, stretching, massaging and getting plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your event are some guaranteed ways to perform at your best.

It’s race weekend, what’s next?

Get Your Number Right

After you check out the expo and pick up your number, pin it on clothing you’ve run in at least once before, are familiar with and want to be photographed in.  Being uncomfortable is a surefire way to make your race more difficult and the last thing you want is to be distracted by a chafing seam.

Rock Race Day Morning

Get up race morning and follow the fueling and hydration plan you developed while training.  Stick with what you know works!  You’ll want to head to the corrals early enough to have time to stretch out and get your body going with an easy jog and a few strides.

Start Slow

Once you’re off, be careful to start slowly.  The start of any race is an exciting moment.  With all that adrenaline pumping, it’s easy to get swept up in the group and go out at a fast pace.  Burning through your fuel in the first mile doesn’t leave much for the rest of the race, especially when you’ll need it for a strong finish.  It’s much easier to increase your pace on legs that are ready to go than maintain it on legs that are tired.

Run the Tangents

After you’ve beaten the urge to rush out of the starting chute and settled into your run, start thinking about the course you’ve studied.  Hug corners, run the inside of curves and take the shortest route possible from Start to Finish.  Courses are measured this way.  Taking wide turns or weaving through groups can add to both your finish time and total distance.

Most importantly, trust your training!

You’ve put in the hard work to have a successful race.  Believe in yourself, take a few of these tips with you and you’ll be hard to beat come race day!