Race-Weekend Preparation for Runners

And while I'm on the subject of expos: Get in and get out! It is all too common and easy to get sucked into walking aimlessly around an expo for three hours, exhausting your legs, the night before your big day. Grab your race number, swing past the cool booths once, and depart!

Do Warm Up Before the Race

Like nutrition and gear, a proper warm-up can either assist or detract from a solid race performance. I am always astounded when I learn that many athletes (even elites) do not have an organized warm-up routine, but rather a haphazard, ever-changing one. I've seen an athlete warm up for 35 minutes for one race only to witness the same athlete do more than 80 minutes the following weekend.

Have a routine and stay with it. What you do on race day should be the same warm-up you did before harder workouts during training. Your warm-up should be second nature. The late British coach Harry Wilson, coach to former world record-holder Steve Ovett, was fond of saying, "Find a routine and then stick with what works."

More: 4 Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises for Runners

For those lacking any semblance of a warm-up routine, I suggest our "ZAP" warm-up:

  • 12-14 minutes of light running
  • Light stretching
  • 5 to 8 minutes of additional running at a slightly quicker tempo

This second chunk should conclude about 10 minutes before your race to give you just time enough to grab some water, change into your lighter-weight shoes if necessary, and get to the line.

Low-key build-up races and weekly hard workout sessions will give you the opportunity to play with your race-day preparations. You'll discover what works well for you nutritionally, which shoes are best, how long should your warm-up should be, etc. By the weekend of your target race, all should be second nature. Race well!

More: 10 Race-Day Preparation Tips

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