The First-Timers’ Guide to Race Week

One Day Before Your Race
If your race has an expo, go check it out! But don't stay on your feet for hours, and don't eat all of the free samples of energy bars and gels on offer. Instead, collect all the free packaged sample size goodies that strike your fancy, and enjoy them after your race.

If your race features a spaghetti dinner or a similar huge, carb-loaded meal the night before, it's probably okay to participate, but be sure to keep your portion sizes reasonable. However, if you rarely or never eat the kinds of food being offered, then don't take any chances on wreaking digestive havoc by eating lots of something your body isn't used to.

At least an hour before bed, lay out all of your race gear. If you got it ahead of time, attach your race bib to your shirt or shorts. Many races require that your bib number be visible from the front, so try on your race clothes with the bib attached to find the most comfortable location that won't impede your stride, including your arm swing. Go for a very short (a city block or less) jog to try this out. Then take off your race clothes and lay them out in a place where they'll be easy to put on early the next morning. If your race uses a separate chip timer that attaches to your shoe laces, get that set up now. If you won't get your bib and/or chip until race day, then budget in some extra time to do this at the race staging area in the morning. 

Spend the rest of the evening off your feet, relaxing and sipping water. Go to bed nice and early, and think about pleasant things. If you have trouble sleeping because you are excited or nervous, don't worry too much. If you've gotten decent sleep the past couple of nights, you'll be fine tomorrow morning.

Race Day
Get up early! Eat your usual breakfast three to four hours before race start time. Put on the well-tested running gear you laid out the night before and double check any race instructions, directions and parking information. Leave for the race early enough to arrive at least one hour before the start time for your heat. 

Be sure to sip water frequently from the time you wake until just before the start of the race, and don't forget to use the Porta Potty one last time before you join your fellow runners in the starting corral. 

After standing in line for the biffy, it might be a good idea to go for a five-minute shakeout run, especially if you're running a shorter, faster distance race like a 5K. Try to time your warm-up run so that you take your spot in the starting corral as the announcer gives the one-minute warning. In those last few moments before the gun goes off, take a deep breath, look around and smile. You've worked hard to get here. Now it's time to enjoy the experience! 

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