Race Day Tips to Improve
Your Race Day Experience

Use these race day tips to help ensure the day of the race is a pleasant one and that your race day experience is a wonderful memory.

The day of the race has finally arrived. You have done all the hard work -- completed the training, did the early morning runs, ran in all sorts of weather conditions, agonized over missing a few training runs -- and you survived it all! This is your race day to enjoy. Use these racing tips and have your best run ever!

You may be feeling a little worried or anxious about race day. These are normal emotions that all runners experience on or before race day. If you are really feeling stressed about it, you may be suffering from performance anxiety.

Most importantly, relax and enjoy the day of the race. These race day tips will help you prepare properly, but no matter what happens today, there will always be another race to run. Take a deep breath and just have fun. It will make for an enjoyable race day experience!

"Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards." 

-- Alberto Salaza

Race Day Tips

Use these race day tips to make the most of your race day experience:

  • Your last week of training should include tapering or reducing the amount of training. For a good performance on the day of the race, you need to give your body a chance to rest and recover by having a low mileage week prior to the race. This will ensure you are in top performing condition on race day.
  • Hydrate well the last few days before the race. Remember that caffeine and alcohol will dehydrate you. Ensure that you eat plenty of carbs and limit your intake of fat.
  • Pick up your race kit as soon as possible. You don't want any last minute panic sessions.
  • Mentally prepare yourself. Use a Race Visualization Exercise to help you achieve your running goals and alleviate any performance anxiety.
  • Use positive affirmations. Select one or more positive affirmations to use during the race. Have confidence in your training. You have done the training so you know you can do the race.
  • Learn how to relax and practice keeping your body relaxed while running. It will help you stay injury free.
  • Don't try anything new on the day of the race. This includes gels, sports drinks, shoes, breakfast food, etc. Everything you do should have already been tried and tested during training. If not, stick to your original plan and run as you did in training. You don't know how your body will react to a new product and it could make for a not-so-pleasant race day experience. If you discover that your stomach cannot tolerate the energy gels or sports drinks or you just want to fuel on more natural foods, try using natural race fuel
  • Get everything ready the night before to avoid the stress and tension of rushing around in the morning. Select your clothes and remember to dress for the race as if it is 10-15 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. That is how warm you will be during the race. If it is going to be hot, learn How to Prepare for Running In Hot Weather. Tie your racing chip to your shoe, pin your racing bib to your clothes, decide on breakfast and set your alarm. Pack your bag to include your warm up gear and other supplies you may need: water belt, chafing stick, gels, sports drinks, water, etc.
  • A garbage bag is a great disposable bag to carry items to the race. It can double as rain protection if needed to keep you dry before the race. Just cut a hole in the bottom big enough for your head to fit through. You can also cut holes for your arms if you decide to leave it on for part of the race.


More Race Day Tips...

  • Arrive at the race site early and do a short warm up. If possible, do this at the last portion of the race route. This will give you a great visual image of you crossing the finish line feeling strong, smiling and having the best race day experience you could possibly imagine!
  • Line up in your correct pacing position. If you are too far in front, it may feel demoralizing for you when the faster runners pass you. If you are too far back, the slower runners will slow you down. Do a fair assessment of your expected finishing time and line up accordingly.
  • Keep your pace even during the race. Don't be tempted to start out fast to keep up with the crowd. Do your own race at your own pace. Use this pace calculator to help you stay on track. You can always go faster in the last part of the race if your energy level allows it.
  • Stop and drink at the water stations. You need to stay hydrated and short walk breaks provide many benefits including injury prevention.
  • Take your scheduled walk breaks if that is how you trained. You may want to coordinate your walk breaks with the water stations.
  • Repeat your positive affirmations during the race. Most runners go through a period of negativity on the day of the race. Thoughts creep in such as: Why am I doing this? Why do I put myself through this? They may even consider dropping out of the race. This may happen to you too. Positive affirmations will help you through this tough period and will overpower the negative thoughts to ensure you have a positive race day experience.
  • Run on the inside of curves and turns in the road whenever possible to make the race distance as short as possible. Remember what you learned in your mathematics class: "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line." Every second counts in a race!
  • If you start to feel tired, try using shorter strides and a quicker turnover. This will make for a more efficient use of your energy.
  • Maintain a good running posture throughout the race. When you start to feel fatigued, you will be inclined to slouch. This makes running more difficult and requires more energy. Keep upright and smile as you cross the finish line.
  • When you have finished the race, embrace the moment. You have done it -- you have achieved your goal and you feel great! Walk around as you think about this as your body needs to cool down and walking will help the body cool down gradually and help your muscles relax.

Re-hydrate and have a snack as soon as possible to aid recovery. There are usually water and recovery snacks provided at the finish line. Socialize with your fellow runners and share your wonderful race day experience! You may have some great race day tips that you want to share to help others. 

Then there is only one thing left to think about...What race are you going to do next?


Articles related to race day tips: 

Performance Anxiety

Pace Calculator

Visualization Techniques

Positive Affirmations

Hot Weather Running

Natural Race Fuel


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