Running a race can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top 35 race day tips and hacks to help make your race experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. As the day of your marathon race approaches, it is important to have a checklist to ensure that you are as prepared as possible. This will help you stay on track with your marathon training plan and avoid any last-minute surprises.
1. Establish a pre-race routine.
Just like your training regimen, a pre-race routine will help your body and mind know what to expect on race day. A few nights before the race, start going to bed and waking up at the same time you plan to on race day. This will help your body adjust to the race day schedule and get the most out of your sleep.
2. Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
To promote deep, restful sleep, it’s important to keep your bedroom dark and cool. This means no electronics in bed, and no bright lights or noise that can disrupt your sleep.
3. Stick to a light dinner.
You may be tempted to carb-load before bed, but it’s actually better to stick to a light dinner. A big meal before bed can lead to indigestion and disrupt your sleep. Instead, focus on eating foods that will help you relax, like a banana or some herbal tea.
4. Avoid caffeine before bed.
Caffeine is a stimulant, so it’s not surprising that it can disrupt your sleep. If you’re feeling extra jittery before bed, avoid caffeine for the few hours leading up to sleep.
5. Get up and move around.
As you reduce your mileage, sitting or lying in bed for too long can make you restless and make it harder to fall asleep. If you find yourself tossing and turning, get up and move around for a few minutes. Taking a short walk or doing some light stretching can help you relax and prepare for sleep.
6. Practice some relaxation techniques.
There are many different relaxation techniques that can help you fall asleep, including deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you.
7. Don’t stress about sleep.
It’s normal to feel a little anxious about getting enough sleep before a big race. But try not to stress about it too much. Worrying about sleep will only make it harder to fall asleep. If you find yourself struggling to sleep, focus on the positive and remind yourself that you’ve done everything you can to prepare for the race.
8. Know the course.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t take the time to familiarize themselves with the course before racing. Knowing where the aid stations are and where the bathrooms are located will be a huge help come race day.
Day before the race:
9.Pre-plan you race day breakfast.
What you eat on race day can make a big difference in how you feel and perform. A good breakfast will give you the energy you need to get through the race, while a bad breakfast can leave you feeling sluggish, tired .
There are a few things to keep in mind when pre-planning your race-day breakfast. First, you need to make sure you eat something that you’re comfortable with and that won’t upset your stomach. Second, you need to make sure you eat enough to give you the energy you need, but not so much that you feel bloated or uncomfortable.
10. Get your race outfit ready.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many runners leave their race-day outfit until the last minute. Lay out everything you need the night before, so you don’t have to think about it in the morning.
Race day kit checklist
First things first, let’s make sure you’ve got all your race day kit sorted. This is essential to have sorted in advance so that you’re not scrambling around on the day trying to find things.
Race bib and timing chip: These are essential for taking part in the race and for timing your race. Make sure you have them both securely attached to your race outfit before you head to the start line.
Race outfit: You need to make sure you’re comfortable and can move freely, but you also don’t want to overheat. Choose light, breathable fabrics and layers that you can strip off if necessary.
Race shoes: Again, comfort is key here. Make sure you’ve broken your shoes in before race day so you’re not dealing with any nasty blisters on the big day.
Fuel and hydration: Running a marathon or half marathon is a huge challenge, both mentally and physically. Make sure you’re properly fuelled and hydrated by packing energy gels, bars or chews, electrolyte and carrying a water bottle with you.
Sunscreen, cap and sunglasses: If the sun is out, you’ll need to protect your skin and eyes from the harmful UV rays. Slather on some sunscreen and pop on cap and a pair of sunglasses before you head out.
GPS watch: Check the batteries: Make sure your watch is fully charged the night before so you don’t have to worry about it dying during your run.
11. Pack your race bag.
Again, this may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to pack their race bag the night before. Your race bag should include everything you need for race day, including your race outfit, race bib, safety pins, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat or visor, water bottle, energy gels or bars, and any other race-day essentials.
12. Set your alarm.
Make sure you set your alarm for plenty of time before the race start. You don’t want to be rushing around in the morning, and you don’t want to be late for the race.
13. Make sure you have your race day transportation sorted.
If you’re driving to the race, make sure you have your car all packed and ready to go. If you’re taking public transportation, make sure you know the schedule and have your tickets or pass ready.
14. Do a mental run-through of the race.
Visualize yourself having a great race. See yourself crossing the finish line, surrounded by your friends and family. This will help you relax and stay positive on race day.
15. Have a bathroom strategy.
Most runners will need to use the restroom at some point during the race, and there’s nothing worse than having to stop in the middle of a race to find a bathroom. If you’re running a marathon, chances are there will be porta-potties along the race route. Make sure to stop at one before the race starts, and then again at each aid station along the way. If you’re running a half marathon, you may not have access to porta-potties, so it’s important to find a bathroom before the race. If you’re not sure where the nearest bathroom is, ask a race official or check the race website.
16. Get a good night’s sleep.
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to get a good night’s sleep before race day. You want to be well-rested so you can make the most of your race. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep the night before the race.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try some relaxation techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. And avoid caffeine in the evening so you can wind down and get some rest.
17. Eat a healthy breakfast.
Again, this may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t eat breakfast before a race. What you eat on race day can make a big difference in how you feel during the race. So make sure you eat a nutritious breakfast that will give you sustained energy.
Here are a few ideas for race-day breakfasts that will help you perform your best:
Oatmeal with fruit: Oatmeal is a great option for race-day breakfast because it’s easy on the stomach and packed with complex carbohydrates and fiber. Top your oatmeal with some fresh fruit for a boost of vitamins and minerals.
Banana with peanut butter: A banana with a dollop of peanut butter is a classic pre-race breakfast for a reason. It’s easy to digest and provides a good mix of complex carbohydrates and protein.
Yogurt with granola: Yogurt is another easy-to-digest breakfast option that’s packed with protein. Top your yogurt with some granola for a boost of complex carbohydrates.
Toast with honey: Toast is a simple, yet effective, race-day breakfast. The complex carbohydrates in the toast will give you sustained energy, while the honey will give you a quick burst of energy.
Coffee: Coffee is a great way to wake up and get yourself ready for the race. Just be sure to drink it black or with a small amount of milk to avoid upsetting your stomach.
Tea: Tea is a great alternative to coffee if you’re not a coffee drinker. Like coffee, tea can help wake you up and get you ready for the race.
Race-day breakfast is one of the most important things you can do to ensure race day success. By pre-planning your breakfast and knowing what you should eat, you can make sure you have the energy you need to perform your best.
18. Dress appropriately.
Comfort is key when it comes to choosing what to wear on race day. Check the weather forecast in advance and dress accordingly. You don’t want to be too hot or too cold during the race. If it’s going to be a hot day, dress in light-coloured, breathable fabrics. If it’s going to be a cold day, dress in layers so you can shed them as needed. Avoid wearing new clothes or shoes for the race as you don’t want to risk chafing or blisters.
19. Warm up properly.
Before the race, be sure to warm up properly. A good warm-up will help you avoid injury and get your muscles ready for the race.
20. Start slow.
When the gun goes off, it’s tempting to want to sprint out of the gates. But resist the urge! Starting slow will help you conserve energy and make it more likely you’ll finish strong.
21. Don’t forget to hydrate.
Staying hydrated is key to running a good race. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and during the race.
22. Pace yourself.
It’s important to pace yourself so you don’t hit the wall. Start at a comfortable pace or dial into your race pace. This pace should be something that you’re comfortable with and can sustain for the duration of the race. It’s important to find this pace early on in the race and stick with it throughout. If you start out too fast, you’ll likely bonk later on and won’t be able to finish strong. On the other hand, if you start out too slow, you’ll never be able to make up the time and will end up finishing behind your goals. The key is to find that happy medium and stick with it from start to finish.
23. Be aware of your surroundings.
As you’re running, be aware of your surroundings and who or what is around you. This will help you avoid any potential hazards.
24. Focus on your breathing.
It’s important to focus on your breathing while you’re running. Taking deep breaths will help you stay calm and avoid getting lightheaded.
25. Have fun.
Remember, the most important thing is to have fun! Don’t take the race too seriously and enjoy the experience.
26. Finish strong.
Save some energy for the end of the race so you can finish strong. Crossing the finish line is an amazing feeling, so make sure you enjoy it!
After a race, it’s important to take care of your body and review your performance. Here is a post-race checklist to help you recover and reflect:
27. Cool down and stretch.
After you finish the race, make sure to cool down with a light jog or walk and stretch your muscles. This will help your body recover and prevent injuries.
28. Rehydrate and refuel.
Rehydrate and refuel: Drink plenty of fluids and eat a nutritious meal as soon as possible after crossing the finish line.
29. Stretch and foam roll.
Once your muscles have been replenished with nutrients, it’s time to start the recovery process by stretching and foam rolling.
30. Review your race data.
Analyze your splits, heart rate, and other data to see where you can improve for next time.
31. Take some time off.
Rest is an important part of the recovery process, so make sure to take some down time before getting back into training mode.
Apply ice to any sore muscles or joints to help reduce swelling.
Use compression garments or wraps on any areas that are particularly sore or swollen.
Prop up your legs or any other affected areas above heart level to help reduce swelling.
Get a professional massage or use a foam roller on your muscles to help them recover faster.
We hope these running hacks and tips help you on your next race day. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the experience. Good luck!