Your Race-Day Running Guide

The Baggage Drop

Many races offer a baggage drop, a relatively secure spot where you can check a bag (either your own or a plastic race-supplied bag) while you're racing. This is a valuable service, as it allows you to shed clothing before the start without tossing it away forever, and to stash a dry change of clothes and cab fare for after the race.

Two Common-Sense Tips:

  • If losing something from your bag would make you utter one of George Carlin's "seven forbidden words," don't leave it at the baggage drop.
  • Mark your bag super clearly, so no one grabs yours by mistake. Just like at the airport, many bags look alike.

Survive the Start

Just about every race start consists of a tight pack of frantic, adrenaline-addled runners trying to get in front of one another. Even if you begin conservatively, patiently waiting for the crowd to thin, your safety is hardly ensured.

If you're trying to pass an MP3-using runner, and you suspect he can't hear you, simply reach out and touch his arm or his elbow. This is the international gesture meant to convey "I am here, and an entanglement would end badly for both of us." Running in a big, dense pack of runners is a lot like running in traffic. Keep your eyes and ears open, and anticipate trouble before it happens.

More: 5 Ways to Beat Anxiety on Race Day

The Clothing Toss

It's common in cooler weather to see runners peeling off clothing, then throwing it over everyone's heads, just before or after the start. The idea is to wear something old or disposable to stay warm while waiting for the gun. And there's no need to feel guilty; at most races, discarded clothing is collected and given to charity.

Just try to watch where you're tossing that jacket or T-shirt when you throw it aside. No one who gets up that early just to watch a marathon start deserves to be pegged in the face by an old, funky sweatshirt. A high, graceful arc is the way to go.

More: Top 5 Women's Running Fashion Trends

Run the Tangents

During a routine training run, you're at one corner of an empty parking lot. You want to get to the opposite corner. Do you: (a) Walk along one side of the lot until you reach the near corner, make a 90-degree turn, then proceed to the next corner? or (b) Make a beeline for the opposite corner? The answer, of course, is b.

Heading directly for the corner is the fastest, most efficient way to cover that ground. On racecourses this is called "running the tangents." Over a long race like a marathon, the time savings can add up to several minutes.

More: Get Ready for Race Day With Simulation Workouts

Before You Fall Asleep

Pin your bib number to the shirt or singlet you plan to wear on race day.

Attach the timing chip to your shoe.

Lay out all the clothing and gear that you plan to put on the next morning, head to toe, including watch or GPS.

If you've brought a special food or drink for breakfast, make sure it's ready to go.

More: 4 Fully Loaded Meals to Carry You Through Race Day

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