5 COMMON RACE-DAY MISTAKES AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
I have to say, the racing season is one of the most exciting times of the year! It’s a chance to get out there and test your fitness, learn a little bit more about the sport and even meet some new people. Racing itself can be a very rewarding experience, even more so when you pay attention to a few small but important things on race day and the days leading up to it. This week you'll have a chance to put those legs to the test once again at our Blackstone 5K, so here are a few common race-day mistakes that people make and how to avoid them:
- Skipping breakfast
It’s important to realize that while you’re sleeping, you are fasting and when you wake up this has been going on for quite a few hours. After fasting all night your blood sugar is most likely on the low side. You may also be sweating while you sleep and your body may be somewhat dehydrated. Use these few easy ways to check if you’re even mildly dehydrated. It is always a good rule of thumb to eat a “fist-size” amount of food, preferably something with complex carbs and low to no fiber, an hour or two before you race. You should also drink 16-20 ounces of water or an electrolyte drink such as Nuun an hour or two before the race. Dehydration can feel like fatigue when it sets in and it is no fun trying to race through it! Make sure that you’re also taking full advantage of the fluid stations along the course, if there are any. These can make or break your race.
Choosing the wrong clothes
Check the weather the night before to ensure that you know exactly what to expect and what to wear. Back at the beginning of Spring I wrote this handy apparel guide to help you determine what type of running gear is appropriate for different weather conditions.
Leaving too little time before the start of the race
You need time to park, or get to the race via public transit, time to pick up your bib if you haven’t yet done so, time to warm-up, time to hit the porta potty (if available, this can take a while!) and time to make your way to the start. These may not seem like they take long, but they all add up. If you don’t leave yourself enough time before the race starts you may find yourself in a situation where you feel anxious or nervous and that can throw you completely off your game. It’s okay to be nervous about the race itself, but not because you ran out of time. Some of the bigger races also have wave starts, and corrals that you need to get into well before the race begins, so plan ahead so you can be in the right spot and the right frame of mind when the gun goes off.
Starting the race too fast
Try not to get caught up in all the excitement at the start. This is probably one of the hardest things to do but it can also be one of the best decisions you make on race day. It can be a challenge to to hold back, with the combination of the excitement of race atmosphere and adrenaline pouring through your veins, but starting the race conservatively is the best way to go, always! This holds true for any and every distance that is not a sprint. Run your own race and don’t worry about anyone else.
Not treating the race like a workout
Races are workouts. Plain and simple. Probably harder than any workout you do. Respect the effort you just put forth and recover like you would after any workout. Foam roll, hydrate, eat well and get enough rest the night after the race and it will go a long way toward helping you realize all of those fitness benefits of having raced that day.
Here are a few more things you should do:
Eat well the night before. Pick your pre-race meals carefully and set yourself up to succeed. I’d say that running is 70% mental and 30% physical but neither of these can perform at the highest level without the proper nutrition. Start hydrating well about a week before the race and drink plenty of fluids throughout the week leading up to the race.
Get enough sleep, especially two days before the race. You may not be able to sleep well the night before, but that’s very common.
Charge your running watch! There’s nothing worse than having a dead watch on race day. Except maybe not having a watch at all.
Good luck, hit the Bully and kick some butt!!
Run Better. Run Smarter. Run For Life.