Race Day Dos & Don’ts

Running a race is always an experience, whether you are excited, scared, or both (exscareded?).  Whatever you do, don’t let your feelings get the best of you, causing you to deviate from your tried and true routines.  Follow the tips below to ensure you start off your race day with a strong foundation.

DO fuel properly

Most runners look forward to the pre-race carboloading, but if not done properly you’ll feel like a bloated Oompa Loompa.  Carboloading is really only beneficial for half-marathon and marathon distances, so don’t eat TOO much pasta before your next 5K. Your body will burn glycogen (converted carbs) and fat during your race, but carbs are the most efficient forms of energy.  Monique Ryan, RD, a dietitian featured in Runner’s World magazine, suggests beginning to carboload a few days before your race and gradually increasing your glycogen stores so that they are full by race day.  Pasta is always a good choice, but don’t limit yourself to just dinner carbs. Bagels, fruits, and granola bars are great options – just watch out for anything with too much fiber…don’t want an emergencies!

DON’T try anything new

Race days aren’t the time to try out your new shoes or buy a new pair of shorts to run in. Your race day outfit should be a tried and true staple of your training. This will prevent blisters, chafing, missing toenails and any other pitfalls of being a runner.

Not trying anything new also applies to food. The days before a race isn’t the time to get Indian food for the first time.  Stick with what you know won’t affect your stomach, whether that be the Mexican joint down the street or a PB&J on white bread.  Whatever you do, don’t eat a new-to-you fiber and protein bar before your run and then be shocked that you have to stop at every Porta Potty for the next 10 miles…not that it happened to me or anything…

DO make a good playlist (if you run with music).

I like to make a special playlist on Spotify for each race. I add some new music and change the order so I don’t know what’s coming next, but it always features some staples like “Shut Up & Dance” and the Rocky theme (#Phillyyo).  If you prefer to be totally surprised, have a friend craft one for you or use Spotify’s pre-made running playlists. They offer songs with BPMs that correspond with your pace so it will help you hit your goal time.

DON’T forget anything

Lay out what you need the night before. Races start at the crack of dawn, or at least feel like it. Don’t waste time the day of searching by the light of your iPhone for the socks you absolutely need.  Create a flat runner with everything you need from head to toe, including headphones, fuel and sunscreen. It cuts out morning surprises.

Flat Annie…adult beverage not included (but desired).

I also put together my breakfast ingredients (my go-to is a piece of toast with a little PB and some honey, two pieces if it’s a longer race) so I know where everything is in the morning. Anything to get a few more minutes of sleep, am I right?

DO remember this isn’t life or death

RELAX. Seriously. It’s just running. You have trained for this. You are ready. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and breathing. Best part? If it’s your first race or first time racing that distance: automatic PR and the bragging rights that come with it.

As you become more accustomed to racing you will create your own list of dos and don’ts. Remember that what works for you isn’t going to work for someone else, so much like you should run your own race you should also prepare for your own race.  While there are many factors of race day you won’t be able to control, focusing on the ones you can will alleviate stress and increase confidence, leaving you to run your best!

9 thoughts on “Race Day Dos & Don’ts

  1. Sam Rachko June 4, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    Hi Annie,

    I’m not a runner, but I would really like to start, which is why I decided to review your posts. Your personality shows through in your posts, which will definitely help you get some followers. I think you offer up some practical advice to your readers which helps them solve problems or get started with running! You’ve even got a bit of comedy, which makes the reading light and fun. I would just say that your posts just need some work with formatting, but everything else looks great!

    • annibanani2 June 6, 2017 / 12:33 pm

      Thanks Sam! Do you have any specific advice about formatting? I don’t always have the best visual eye so I am always eager to get feedback.

  2. travel2933 June 5, 2017 / 2:15 am

    Great Post! Especially for first time runner who are nervous going into their first race. I remember getting ready for mine and completely forgetting to get the right playlist organized. Although Spotify had some pre-made ones that helped me out, it’s something I should have totally not forgotten about!

    • annibanani2 June 6, 2017 / 12:33 pm

      Yes!! Lack of music is the worst for me. I had an iPod die as I lined up for a race where the first three miles were hilly. There were almost tears. 🙂

  3. Raghav June 6, 2017 / 11:46 am

    Annie, love this post. I don’t know if I can truly consider myself a runner but I have been running regularly since the beginning of the year — sort of a New Year’s resolution. While I struggle to run a mile every other day (don’t laugh!) I do hope to be able to run a 5K by the end of the year and eventually a marathon in the long run (no pun intended). I’m glad you wrote about fueling. As a newbie, I am unsure of what to eat before a run. For weighlifting, I’d have a simple breakfast or a lite protein bar/shake and wait an hour to lift. But for running I was unsure so thanks for the info! Good luck on your race!

    • annibanani2 June 6, 2017 / 12:34 pm

      Raghav, I would NEVER laugh at that!! Trying new things can be really hard, so I commend you for branching out. Good luck with your 5K and marathon goals! You will do great. 🙂

  4. coffeeavocados June 9, 2017 / 10:41 am

    Great tips! I always think with breakfast it’s better to stick with something you’d normally eat – I’ve known a few people feel ill after they decided to have a bigger breakfast than normal on race day!
    I’m a big one for being organised and like to lay out everything the night before too 😀

    Thanks for sharing your tips!

    Rachel | Coffee & Avocados

  5. Amanda Schwarz June 10, 2017 / 12:22 pm

    I like how you switched off the list with do’s and don’t because it kept things interesting for me. As someone who has just recently started to enjoy running, I thought this article was informative yet enjoyable read, because I always found races so intimidating. I also liked how you used humor, which allowed your voice to come through and did not make it sound condescending at all.

  6. Rob Skvarla June 11, 2017 / 10:09 pm

    The point about the playlist is a good one! Something people often overlook is that you can set the tempo of your run by making a playlist of songs based on their BPM/beats per minute. Generally speaking, music with 170-190 BPMs is what experts suggest aiming for, but this also limits the kinds of music you can listen to since most music in this range is dance, electronic, or hip-hop, rap, so it’s definitely something to experiment with. Great post!

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