You’ve put the hard work into training and now it’s time for the big day. Find out how to prepare yourself for the start line and cut down on the last minute nerves with our top 10 race day tips.
1. Get there early
Be informed about the race. This means knowing where it starts and finishes and making the necessary arrangements for transport. Whether it's a big or small race, give yourself at least an hour to warm up and get comfortable with the surroundings.
2. Eat no later than an hour before the start
You can't run without fuel but eating too close to starting time will only cause cramps. Try to eat a carbohydrate-rich meal no later than one hour before the race.
3. For longer distances, have a hydration plan
For races over 10km many people will want to have a drink to stay hydrated. Do you prefer to run with a bottle? Or are you okay with taking drinks at water stations? Decide what you're going to do, and train in the same way.
4. Decide how you are going to run the race
It is impossible to know how any race will go but that doesn't mean you don't need a plan. Do you want to run fast at the start and then ease up, or vice versa? Try not to let the behavior of other runners influence you into changing your plan. For beginners we suggest to avoid running fast at the start of a race. Passing those overenthusiastic people in the second half will make you feel much better!
5. Dress smart
Check out the weather forecast for the day and dress appropriately. Race day isn't for experiments, so wear your tried and trusted gear - not something new.
6. Use other runners to keep yourself going
When you're feeling tired it helps to use the pace of other runners around you to keep going. Another useful tactic is to pick out someone not too far ahead of you and try to catch them, or just maintain the same distance between you.
7. Divide the course
In a longer race, it can be useful to mentally divide up the course in sections. So for a half marathon, you run four times 5km, taking one section at a time. This also works by running to points within view (for example lamp posts or street corners). It makes the distance less daunting and you take the pressure off.
While you might need all the adrenaline you need, being tense and unrelaxed will make you less efficient. Try to do a mental check-over every now and then during the race. Ask yourself: how am I doing? How do I feel? Make an effort to relax your hands and shoulders and your breathing. This will all help you to run easier.
9. Bring support
Run the race with a buddy or try to have some friends or family come to support you. Knowing someone is cheering you on will really give you a boost when you're tiring. It's also easier to run when there is someone at the finish line to share the moment with.
10. No matter if it's your first or 101st race: enjoy it!
Running is to be enjoyed. If you are disappointed by your performance, allow yourself to annoyed about it for a while but then log it and move on. Reading the log later on might help you avoid a similar experience. But keep in mind that everyone has bad days, and the memory will fade quickly when you have another good run!