You’ve trained, planned and prepared and you’re ready to go. Now that race day has finally arrived, avoid these 7 common mistakes that can derail your performance or spoil your race day experience.
You do something new. Your friend gave you a cute new running tank to wear on race day? Say thanks but wait until your next training run to wear it. The best way to avoid unwanted issues when you race is to stick with what you’ve been doing during training – wear the same clothes, run the same pace and eat the same foods.
You’re not prepared. Race day comes with jitters that even seasoned runners experience. So don’t add to the stress by finding out the morning of your race that something’s not quite right. Leave out everything you need the night before, fuel your electronics and make sure you know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. Also be sure to check the weather forecast so you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature dishes out.
You don’t start in your assigned corral. There’s a reason races separate runners by time into corrals for bigger races. This way you start the race with runners of a similar pace. Stick with the corral you’ve been assigned and you’ll start the race without getting trampled by faster runners or having to weave around slower ones.
You go out too fast. Race day conditions can throw all of your solid training to the wind, and before you know it, the excitement of the day has you going all out at the beginning of the race. Don’t let adrenaline and nerves get the best of you or you’ll run out of steam too soon. Better to start the race slowly and save your energy to pick up the pace later in the race.
You don’t fuel properly before the race. What and when you eat before the start is as important as how you stay fueled during the race. If you are running a race that will take you longer than an hour to complete, eat a meal containing at least 300 – 350 calories about 3 – 4 hours before the race. If you’re doing a shorter race, a smaller meal or snack of about 200 – 250 calories should be eaten about 2 hours before race start. Keep your snack or meal low in fat and fiber and include some carbs.
You don’t fuel properly during the race. Practice what you’ll eat or drink during your training runs at a similar pace. Keep in mind that nerves on race day may make your go-to fuel not sit too well in your stomach. If this happens, stick to small doses of liquid calories, such as a sports drink or gel.
You don’t recover properly. Once you cross the finish line, you’re likely to be excited to celebrate with friends, family or other runners. But make sure you take the time you need first to let your body come back to resting mode. Keep moving for a bit to let the lactic acid flush out of your legs, stretch, foam roll, get a massage, use some ice or do whatever it is that helps you recover post-race. Then go have some fun or take a nap – your choice!