How to Be Ready for Your First 5K
The Night Before
- Eat a healthy, low fat, moderate protein dinner. Don't eat too late. Carbohydrates are easiest to digest. Fats take longer.
- I suggest no alcohol 24 to 48 hours before the race. Alcohol slows you down, could negatively affect your sleep patterns, and can dehydrate you.
Decide what you're going to wear for the race and pin your race bib (if you already have it) on the front of your shirt, not your jacket. That way you won't forget your race number. Use all four safety pins. It's distracting to have your number flapping in the wind during the whole race. Don't wear anything new on race day—shoes, socks, shorts, jog bras should be worn in practice before race day to make sure there are no friction spots.
- Try to get to sleep early enough to get a good night's rest. Although, if you don't sleep well the night before a race, it's not as important as the sleep you get two nights before. You should be hydrating well all week, in fact all year. Don't wait till the last day to drink lots of water or you will be up all night.
At Home the Morning of the Race
- Pack a dry t-shirt even in the summer. When you're sweaty, you'll get chilly standing around after the race even in 75 degree weather. When it's cold, also take warm-up pants and a jacket. I take a complete set of dry clothes for after the race.
- Use petroleum jelly or "Runner's Lube" if chafing is a problem. Never leave Runners Lube in your car because it will melt.
- Drink water before you leave your house and on the way to the race.
Whether or not to drink coffee before a race is an individual decision. Experiment to see what works best for you.
Regarding eating the morning before a race, I always eat something that is high in complex carbohydrates, moderate in protein, with minimal fat. Eat at least two hours before the start of the race. My favorite pre-race food is cereal with fat-free milk, sliced almonds and raisins. Other choices are bagels, bananas, toast and peanut butter or jelly. Race morning is not the time to experiment with new foods. Eat what you usually eat, unless what you usually eat is bacon, eggs, and fried potatoes.