Proper pre-race planning can mean the difference between an enjoyable, pleasant race experience and a complete disaster. This article looks at seven keys to planning your race to ensure that you get to the starting line on time and ready to go!
There's more to running a good race than simply training hard, showing up at the start line and giving it your best shot. It requires a significant amount of pre-race planning and preparation to avoid unexpected problems and ensure that things go smoothly. Even something as simple as not knowing aid station locations can throw off your rhythm and negatively affect your race.
Fortunately, learning how to effectively plan your race is mainly a matter of experience. This is another reason it's good to run a few smaller races in the weeks leading up to your goal race. Here are some ideas for proper race planning to avoid unpleasant surprises on race day.
1. Enter your race early.
Make sure that you register for the race early in case it reaches the entry limit sooner than you expect. I once trained for a half marathon for several months only to find that it sold out before I submitted my entry. Generally, the bigger the race, the earlier you need to enter to be sure you get in. This can save you a few dollars as well, since most races have early bird discounts if you register in advance.
2. Check the race website thoroughly and be aware of any unusual logistics.
Some races require that you pick up your race kit the day before the race, and don't allow race-day pickup. Needless to say, this is not something you want to hear when you show up to pick up your number 30 minutes before race time.
Other things to note are gear check and post-race meeting areas. Some races require you to check your baggage at least 30 to 60 minutes before the start. Usually, this information is well highlighted on the race website or entry form. Checking these things in advance can save you a ton of aggravation on race morning.
3. Check the weather.
Check the weather well to make sure you have suitable clothing with you for before, during and after the race. This is a good place to plan for the worst, especially if you're running in cold weather. Make sure everything you wear on race day has been well tested in training to avoid chafing or let in too much moisture. Bring an extra pair of running shoes in case your main pair gets wet during the warm up or some other time prior to the race.
4. Get there early.
It's a good idea to have a set routine whenever you arrive at a race and follow it religiously. I like to arrive at least an hour in advance to a race. This gives me time to collect my race kit, find the start and finish line, and warm up properly without having to be rushed.
Don't forget to allow for time in the porta potty line as well. There's nothing worse than being stuck in a long line with the race start 5 minutes away. Give yourself a few extra minutes to work your way through the starting line crowd to your preferred position as well.