Run for the Journey

Run for the Journey

Last-Minute Tips for Race Day

With races re-starting after the pandemic we’re suddenly spoilt for choice. From 5ks to ultras, the race calendar for the next few months is full of options. So whether you've stuck to a training plan or spent the last few months drinking beer and eating crisps, it’s time to think about race day.

Sure, you're not going to be able to make any difference to your running ability at this point, but there's still stuff you can do to make it go as well as possible. There are also things that may sound like a miracle formula for the fact you didn't do enough training, but will probably makes things a hell of a lot worse.  So here are some last minute running tips for your next big race.

1) Have Everything Ready The Night Before

Us runners are pretty lucky. We don't tend to have that much stuff we need to take with us when we do a race. Those things we do take with us though, tend to be pretty important. Things like your phone and your sports watch. If we forget to charge or pack one of those things, we're looking pretty distraught at the start line. We tend to put everything charged and ready in a pile the night before, along with our kit and any snacks we might need.

 Last minute kit prep

2) Eat Normal Food

There's a temptation to try and eat like an athlete before a race. You might have read somewhere that eating paleo is great for runners, or carb loading is the way to go before a big event. And yeah, in some cases that's probably true, but only if you know what you're doing. Basically, if you try to change your diet a day or two before a race the only thing that going to happen is your digestive system is probably not going to work as well. I think we both know what we're talking about.

3) Don't Think Energy Gels Will Solve Everything

Seriously, energy gels are there to serve one purpose. To supply you with energy when you're body has ran out. They're not some sort of wonder drug that'll give you temporary strength and speed. They're not going to undo months of not training properly. To be honest, unless you haven't eaten properly for a few days, you probably won't even notice them doing anything. And if you're planning on taking a gel for anything less than a half marathon, it's probably not going to be that effective, and if it is, you should maybe be eating a bit better.

 Tom racing the British 10k

4) Toilet Planning

Basically, of all the things that can make or break a race, aside from all the training, effective planning of your toilet usage beforehand is right up there. First of all look at the time it's going to take you from your house to the race. Sometimes you'll get to an event where the queue to the toilets is going for miles. If you're desperate to go and you've turned up ten minutes before, you're in for a rough ride. Try to find somewhere close by that'll be less busy, like a shopping centre or a supermarket.

 Using the loos before a race

5) Don't Experiment

You may read stuff online about how to run properly, or techniques for better pacing, or even types of stretching that are good beforehand. If you haven't tried them in training though, don't try them at a race. Changing your running style or warm-up routine, without testing it out in training for a while, will most likely either end up in a bad race, pain, or even some sort of injury.

6) Don't Buy A New Wardrobe

The temptation to head out to Westfield the day before a big race and kit yourself out so you look like Usain Bolt may seem like a good idea. Trust us though. The last thing you want is your body as sore as hell and your shoes ripping your feet to shreds as you come up to the halfway mark. We've been there before. Wasn't pretty. Stick with clothes that you run in normally, or at least kit yourself out a few weeks in advance.

7) Think About The Medal

Okay, not everyone in the world is as obsessed as we are with medals. But if that's not your thing then make sure there's something at the end of the race to look forward to; something that helps get you through the inevitable few kilometres of pain. It may be a nice meal, a favourite wine, a magazine, hell, go and watch a musical for all we care (have a shower first though).

Tom Wheatley with his medal

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Tom Wheatley

All Rounder

Combining running with all sorts of other physical activities, Tom ”loves running as a way of exploring new places and enjoys nothing more than spending my Sunday doing any race I can find.”