I’ve done a lot of races but no matter the distance I still get pre-race jitters. I’ve learned that if I can’t get rid of them, at least I can set myself up properly so I know that I’m as ready as I can be.
Here are some tips to help you do the same.
Prepping the Day Before
Most races begin early in the morning so preparation, meal timing, etc. is key.
- Eat an early dinner so you have enough time to digest. You should know works for you from your training but as a reminder stick with pastas that aren’t heavy on the garlic or onions (lesson learned) and if you need a salad to help get things moving, have a small one.
- A glass of wine is fine but remember that alcohol is dehydrating so you’re better off sticking with one.
- Lay out your clothes, bib, pins, water bottle, fuel, hat, jacket, etc.
- In your drop bag throw in a pair of flip flops for after the race, a jacket plus a small pouch for a few bucks and a place to stash your car or house keys.
- If you will be able to eat breakfast at home set out all you’ll need for your meal. Set the coffee pot and even set out your bowl, cup, etc.
- Hydrate but don’t over-hydrate. Drink to thirst and you’ll be ok.
- Get directions to the race and enter it into your phone.
- Take 5-10 minutes to review your race plan (pace, splits, etc.) and visualize your run. Repeat your mantras, meditate to clear your mind or just sit quietly.
- Organize your music, charge your phone, etc.
The Morning of the Race
- If you drink coffee, drink your coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, today is NOT the day to start.
- Drink some water.
- Go to the bathroom. (If you are not able to go to the bathroom don’t force it! You’ll have a chance at the starting line.)
- Get yourself SPF’d and Body Glided in the chafey spots.
- Dress, pack your bag, gather your gear.
- Eat breakfast.
The timing of breakfast is very personal. For a marathon or a half I wake up and have a banana with my coffee. Then I get dressed and prepare my oatmeal (always oatmeal topped nuts, berries and made with almond milk) and eat it 2 hours before the race starts. If you worry about being hungry at the start, a few nibbles on your bar should do the trick.
At the Race
Get yourself to the starting line an hour or so before the race. (Note: Some races you have to shuttle to the start and you may not have any option for timing.) A lot of the pre-race stress can be avoided by allowing enough time to get to the race.
- Find the porta potty and get in line.
- If you can return to your car do that to hang out and relax. Sip water as needed, nibble on your bar.
- About 30 min prior to the start, unload your keys, change and other jangly items from your pockets so you’re not *that* annoying person and make your way towards the starting line.
- But first, get back in line for the port potty. (Race day stomach distress is a thing and it can ruin your race.)
- With 15-20 min to go, head to the bag drop area. Drop your bag and head to the starting line.
- Line up in your corral or by your pace time. Please don’t line up in the 9 min pace with your speedy friend if you run a 10 min pace.
- Take the final few minutes to settle your mind and remind yourself of your race strategy and race plan.
- Sing loudly along with the National Anthem.
- Start your watch when you cross the starting line.
- Have fun!
And remember, you never know what will happen on race day so just go out and do your best. You’ve got this!
Now go run!