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Prep for Races

With spring finally here and summer just around the corner, race season is upon us. Whether this will be your first race season or you’re a seasoned vet, there are certain things you should be doing to prepare for each race, starting the week before the gun goes off.

The Week Before the Race

Don’t Psych Yourself Up Too Much: Community races are positive events! You get to spend a morning with strangers cheering you on, feeding you and offering water, and celebrating doing something healthy for yourself (or great cause if it’s a charity event). Everyone fears that they’ll be last, but don’t worry. In all likelihood, you won’t be. People with a very wide range of abilities and levels of fitness do these races, and many people just go to walk them from start to finish.

Familiarize Yourself with the Route: If you can, work out on the route where the race will take place so you can get familiar with where you’ll need to push and where you can cruise. Finding the race start beforehand will prevent you from getting lost (and causing undue stress) on race morning!

Eat Tried and Tested Foods: This is not the time to branch out and try new foods! Your best bet is to eat whatever has worked best for you during your regular weekday runs. Don’t eat anything heavy within two hours of the race. A smoothie containing fruit and yogurt is always a good choice because it gives you a good balance of carbs and protein but not too much fiber (which could cause stomach distress).

Days Before the Race

Stick to your Routine: Race week isn’t the time to try new shoes, new food or drinks, new gear, or anything else you haven’t used on several workouts. Stick with the routine that works for you.

Get Plenty of Rest: In the days before you race, try to stay off your feet as much as possible. Relax, and leave the lawn mowing or shopping or sightseeing for after the race.

Adjust your Eating Habits: Rather than devouring a gigantic bowl of pasta the night before the race, which could upset your stomach, try eating carbs in smaller increments throughout the day before the race.

Get Ready the Night Before: Lay out your gear (this includes fastening your racing bib to your clothes) and get as much sleep as possible, aim for eight hours.

Race Day

Hydrate Well in Advance: Yes, you need to stay hydrated, but no major drinking, at least, 30 minutes before the gun; sip if your mouth is dry or if it’s particularly hot out. Some athletes will take a mouthful and use it as a rinse and spit. Your best bet is to stay hydrated throughout the day. Aim for half your body weight in ounces.

Arrive Early: Get to the race at least one hour before the start so you’ll have time to pick up your number (if you don’t already have it), use the bathroom, and warm up. You don’t want to be running to the starting line.

Dress Appropriately: It will probably be cool at the start, but don’t wear more clothing than you need. Dress for 20 degrees warmer than it is outside. To stay warm at the start, you may want to bring (expendable) clothes that you can throw off after you warm up.

Line Up Early: You don’t want to be rushing to the starting line, so don’t wait for the last call to get there.


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