I want to believe, that after running for almost 6 years now, that I gain a certain level of expertise as participating in running events and races is concerned since I ran more than 30 running events thus far.
There is a lesson that I learned from the early stage racing and that is, that the running gear you train in and also the food you eat before, during and after a training session is the same gear and food you will wear and eat on race day.
The reason you do this is because when race day comes you be ready to run without having any problems at all. Practice does make you perfect A good race and a good personal record is always possible if you developed a good solid training routine.
I know it sounds boring, but if you train a certain way and train yourself to eat in a certain way and certain time (preferably simulated the time of your race will begin) then you will have less surprises and mishaps on race day.
Well the last race I participated a 10k one end up being a bit of an adventure because I assume I knew what I was doing, I miscalculated a lot of things and I end up getting a traffic ticket for speeding, but let’s see what you need to secure before you arrive at your race location.
- Register early.
It is a good idea to register for the race as soon as the organizers of the race allow it. Most of the running events today give you the opportunity to register months before the event and also online without having to leave the comfort of your house.
Let’s see the advantages of preregistering.
You can design and schedule your training program better. You will know what time the race begins and also other characteristics like altitude, terrain, weather conditions, all these you can find out from the event webpage or you can ask others that participated last year’s race. It’s always better to know in advance.
You will not have to run on race day to fill registration forms and carrying money with you to pay for your entry fee. Also, there is always a line while you could use that time to have a proper warm-up and prepare yourself mentally for the race.
- Trip duration
Always check how far the race location is from your home is. Are you driving, or are you taking a bus or other means of transportation. You should know exactly how much time you need to arrive there and also if there are going to be parking lots
Another good tactic to do is to arrive at the race day a day before and stay with friends or a hotel, this way you be avoiding a hectic and tiring trip especially if it’s more than 2 to 3 hours.
The second way offers more advantages since you are able to make a small reconnaissance of the start of the race, check out for parking facilities near the event, measure the time you need to go from the place you lodge to the start of the race. Check out spots you can warm up before the race etc.
The disadvantage of it is that you need to make sure that transportation and housing apartments must be programmed and register beforehand so when you get there you won’t find yourself homeless and no where to stay. You need to make bookings and pay for advanced.
Even if you are crashing with friends or family you need to let them know you are coming and that needs to be also scheduled and arranged so not to have any unpleasant surprises on the day of the race.
The advantage of traveling on race day is that you don’t have to program any hotel staying or other overnight trips, you just wake up get into your car or your friend’s car or take the bus and make sure you arrive on time.
- What and when to eat.
Ah food. What to eat and when to eat, there are like a zillion articles out there on the net asking these questions. The answer to these questions is very simple, there are as many different answers as much people on this planet. Every person is unique, and our digestive systems are not the same. One can eat kiwi and have an allergic reaction and ends up in the hospital and the other can eat a dozen and won’t feel a thing.
That’s why when you train, you experiment and try various and different foods, to see which one give you energy, which ones don’t give you constipation, or belly ache, or diarrhea. Which ones are good for your stomach and which ones help you recover quickly? That’s why we train so we know by the time the race comes what to eat the night before the race and also the morning of the race. All these “experts” out there who never done a race on their life’s suggest which food you should eat and food which you will not. Even if they are experts my advice to you is don’t listen to them, experiment and find out yourself of what kind of food, how much food and when to eat it and is best for you
There are though a few basic general rules that apply to all of us as food is concerned. If you are eating at home, then have the meals prepared for advanced, the night meal and also the morning of the race meal. If you are traveling, bring them with you or scout the area for restaurants that offer the food you want to eat.
Do not eat too late on the previous night of the race it will mess up with your sleep or too close to the start of the race you might get cramps, upset stomach or need to use the toilet and that’s the last you want!
- When and how many hours to sleep.
Most of the people that have a race they do not sleep well the previous night mainly because of the stress and the anxiety they feel about the event. The secret for this is simple and I have applied it for a year now and it really works, I make sure at least a week before the race to go to bed earlier than I usually do, this way I get enough sleep during the week to compensate of me not sleeping enough on the day before the race.
Sleep has an accumulative effect. If you did not sleep one day as well, but you had good resting sessions the previous days your body will be able to achieve the goal you set.
Here are some tips for achieving a good sleep pattern the night before the race.
- AS I already mentioned do not eat late. It will upset your stomach and the body instead repairing itself, it will devote its energy on completing the digestion of the food.
- DO not drink too much water and avoid drinking any fluids at least two hours before going to bed, this will save you a few trips to the toilet.
- GO to sleep the same hour as you train yourself the last week before the race do not go earlier or later than that.
- To check that everything is ready for your race day tomorrow this will relax you and you will not end up thinking through the night if you packed your shoes or your glasses of hat etc.
- Finally, if you can’t sleep then try and stay still in bed, you will save energy for the race the next day.
The next day have an alarm clock and also use the alarm clock capabilities of your mobile phone, have someone to call you and wake you up.
Wake up enough hours before the event so you can prepare, wear your gear, eat something, use the bathroom and have enough time to get to the race location without any stress and anxiety.
- To sex or not to sex
I bet you didn’t see that coming right? (Wink) Well, my advice is this, if you can have sex before the race have it, it will relax you, it will help you sleep and recent scientific experiments suggest that it even improves your running times.
- Weather conditions
Always check the weather of the race location, and not just a few days before the event, you can find out what kind of weather the race location has from previous participants and also weather channels. This will help you train in similar conditions at the race location and on race day you will not wonder what kind of clothes to wear. If it’s too chilly you can wear something warmer on top and then get rid of it when you start running. If it’s too humid you can wear clothes that aid the evaporation of your sweat, too hot, you will need a hat and some sunglasses etc. You got my point of knowing the weather. Plus, it will help you with the traveling from your location to the race location.
- Prepare your running gear
If you can get your number a day before the race that would be great, if you can’t get and it’s going to be on race day, then make sure you get there as early as you can so to avoid waiting on line.
Now the night before the race if you have your number with you pin it on your running T-shirt, also if the organizers are measuring your time using a timer chip attach the chip on your shoe, usually is on the shoe. Trust me, you don’t want to be doing that on the morning of the race.
Review again the time and the place of the race and save some money for you just in case of emergency. If the race is in a city lot of shops around you never known what you mind need, I always have a small pocket in my running shorts where I keep some money there.
Pack your Vaseline or other kind of aid you use to avoid friction on your inner thighs, under your arms and also your nipples. I have more information about that in my book “How to train and finish your first 5k race.”
- Pack your running bag carefully
Basically, make sure to pack anything you think is going to be needed for the race day, I am going to say it again as I said many times in my first book “Thirsty for Health” every person is unique so its needs, so use your better judgment and also learn from previous mistakes.
I have a good tactic as packing my running bag. I start from the feet up, the shoes I wear after the race extra clothing with everything like an extra pair of socks, etc. Some towels to use after the race to remove your sweat, a plastic bag for sweaty clothes, toilet paper if the weather is hot sunscreen, etc, you got my drift.
The secret is to have two separate bags one for running gear and another for normal gear that will use after the race.
Make sure you have it packed the day before the race
Have a healthy and happy day!
The competitive runners handbook by Bob Glover and Shelly-Lynn Florence Glover
Chi Running by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer
Galloway’s Book on Running 2nd edition by Jeff Galloway
How to train and finish your first 5k race. by Andreas Michaelides