Registering for a race can seem like a big commitment, especially when you don’t feel like a seasoned runner. It's easy to forget that every race doesn’t have to be competitive. Think of some races as practice or just fun runs! We've learned that even though you may not have a PR (Personal Record) every time, the important thing is to feel good about your performance and know that you got out there and did it! I've learned some important skills as runners which have helped us start races with confidence and finish with a sense of accomplishment. At FIT4MOM, we are often asked for our favorite tips, so we've put together a few of our best for you!
Race Day Tips to Help You Finish Strong
Have Your Playlist Ready
If you listen to music when running, be sure to have your playlist set and loaded before race morning. You already have things to do and it’s something that can easily be done in the days leading up to the race. Whatever device you’re using (phone, iPod, etc.) be sure it’s charged and on a do not disturb mode so you aren’t distracted or interrupted. It’s also important to not be flipping through songs or searching on the device while running. Just hit play and GO!
Don’t Try Out New Gear on Race Day (Do it Before)
If you’re in the market for some new gear, make sure to get it a few weeks before the race and test it out before. This is especially true for socks and shoes. If your feet start bothering you mid-race, it can really mess with your mind to get over the pain in each step. Wear shoes for a few runs at minimum before racing in them!
Fuel Before the Race
This one seems obvious but is so easy to overlook. In the days before your race, be extra aware of how much water you’re drinking because your body will hold onto some of that hydration and especially the day before, drink up! You’ll want to be sure to drink water the morning of, but don’t overdo it and feel the need for a bathroom break mid-run.
Your dinner the night before should be light to medium but carb heavy. It’s not the best idea to have just a salad because you’ll need those carbohydrates for energy! Choose the healthy carbs that are right for you and eat enough to feel full but not overstuffed. Also, steer away from acidic foods the night before and morning of because they can cause acid reflux to flare up.
Breakfast should be consumed at least an hour before the run to give time to digest, and something with healthy carbs and a small dose of protein will usually do the trick. We like either peanut butter toast or some banana and peanut butter! Maybe a bowl of granola is more your thing. It’s good to test out pre-race meals before you go on runs to see how you feel and what seems to sit well with you.
Get Some Rest
It's obvious that you should rest up the night before a race. Even if you aren't able to go to sleep early, just relaxing in bed or on the couch is helpful. We know as moms, our sleep schedule is all over the place so don't stress about anything you can't control. Have a goal to be in bed with enough time to get 8 hours of sleep if possible.
Don’t Look Around
Keep your eyes forward as you’re running and focus on what you’re doing. Constantly looking behind you or to your side can use up a lot of energy and also cause you to temporarily lose your footing. It’s good to focus on a runner ahead of you and have a goal to pace with or pass them, and then move onto the next, but don’t look back! If you aren’t shooting for a personal best time, then just focusing on the road ahead of you will help you keep your pace and finish strong.
Although you'll be thirsty by the time you hit a water station, resist the urge to gulp as you are certain to get a belly full of air. Instead, swish the water in your mouth and then swallow or just take a 5 second break and drink. It won't change your time by much and many people swear that those quick breaks will give you more energy to keep up a good pace!
If you are running a race on city streets, be mindful to stick to the center. Streets angle down towards the curbs and if you run close to the edges, you'll be putting a lot of strain on the hip that is closest to the curb. Seek out level ground as much as possible.
You are the only person that can get YOU up in the morning, lace up those running shoes and walk to the start line. Whether you feel nervous or excited, the number one thing to remember is that it’s all supposed to be fun! The pain you may feel during the race is temporary, it’s going to pass and when you’re done, you’ll be already thinking about the next one!
It’s fun to have fitness goals with numbers and times so you can really track your progress. So follow these tips and come up with your own tips that work for you to help shave off a few seconds or even minutes on your next race. See you at the starting line!