A race day fail can be extremely disappointing after months of training, not only ruining your experience but also perhaps dashing your dreams of a new PR.
The good news: You can learn from other's mistakes. We've compiled a list of common race day fails that may seem like common sense, but trust us, they can happen to anyone.
The Fail: Zero Logistical Planning1 of 7
This fail covers a gambit of race day issues. From being late to not knowing where to park to forgetting your race bib or chip, these are all logistics issues than can wreak havoc on your day.
Both new and experienced runners are guilty of this. The new runners don't understand how everything works on race day, so they have no choice but to wing it. The very experienced runners think they know how everything works on race day, so they may not prepare. Missing the start of your race is stressful and can lead to errors in your finish time or another race day fail: starting out too fast.
Avoid this fail by planning out everything ahead of time, including your race day outfit and your transportation plan. Don't leave any decision, big or small, until that morning.
The Fail: Too Fast, Too Soon2 of 7
You started a race full speed ahead. You got caught up in the momentum of the crowd, your legs feel great and your turnover is effortless. But then, it hits you. Rather, you hit it—the wall, that is. You are running through peanut butter. You've gone out too fast and are now running out of gas long before the finish line. As you are forced to realize your mistake, a costumed runner passes you like you're standing still.
Avoid this fail by setting a pace you will stick to on the first mile, no matter what. You can always speed up later when more distance is behind you.
The Fail: New Foods3 of 7
Trying new foods on race day is always a huge mistake. For example, if you never drink milk before a run, trying it out on race day as your pre-race breakfast is a terrible idea—as is testing out any other food you've never eaten the morning before a race.
Even if your spouse or running friend offers you something that they swear by before races, just say no. Eating a new breakfast can result in numerous stomach terrors that will hit you at just the worst time—when there isn't a Porta Potty in sight.
Avoid this fail by establishing a go-to race day breakfast or mid-run snack that you've tested on numerous training runs.
The Fail: Empty Tank Syndrome4 of 7
This race day fail occurs at some point during the race when you realize that you are hungry or thirsty. You drink or eat at an aid station, but it's just too late. You're already depleted and your muscles feel weaker by the minute.
Avoid this fail by making it a priority on the day before your race to drink extra water. Also consider carrying energy chews or gels with you as you run and use them before you feel depleted.
The Fail: Shower Sting5 of 7
We have all suffered from this fail. You get up race morning and feel fully prepared. You've got your nutrition on point, you're hydrated and you've trained hard. You may even have the race of your life.
You get home, take off that shiny new medal, hop in the shower and...it's like the scene from Psycho. Who is that screaming? Oh, it's you. You forgot to lube up pre-race and that water on your chafed body parts is like a sting you've never felt before.
Avoid this fail by identifying "problem areas" ahead of time and using a body glide that will keep painful chafing at bay. Also, remember to never wear any new clothes on race, including your new race day shirt. You never know what small seam or rough spot will irritate your skin.
The Fail: Giving in to FOMO6 of 7
FOMO stands for "Fear of Missing Out," and it can strike anyone at any time. Having FOMO about friends who are at the bar the night before a race can lead to joining them for "just one drink." It can also lead a runner to join friends on a tourist jaunt through the new city they are racing in, when they know that spending too much time on their feet before a race is never a good idea.
While not exactly a fail on race day, both of these FOMO situations can lead to a lackluster race. Plus, running with a hangover is never fun.
Avoid this fail by prioritizing your race experience above all else, even over a night out with friends and a great tour through a new city. Remember, you can always do these fun things after your race—and they'll probably be much more fun if you're celebrating a PR.