Race day is tough as it is, but it can be even tougher if certain things are not heeded that day. Here are four things to think about that many seasoned long distance runners consider key to their performances:
Eat light before the race:
Many runners eat twice before the starting gun goes off. Upon rising, they will have a 200-calorie carb-based snack, like a slice of whole-wheat toast and 2 teaspoons of peanut butter, or oatmeal, 1% milk and half a banana.
Then an hour before the race starts, they will eat again – like a quick 200-calorie energy bar. In both cases, they go for the carbs. Your body has “fasted” during the night so you want to carb-load before the race. You want to have as much glycogen as possible that your body can use for fuel before it turns to using fat (and slow down your pace time).
Wear familiar gear:
Race day is not the time to debut a new pair of high-tech running shoes or even a new running outfit. Either could rub you the wrong way making the race anywhere from miserable to not being able to finish due to intense pain. If you are going to wear something new, be sure you have tested it first on one of your long races to ensure fit and resistance to skin chafing. Speaking of clothes, don’t wear anything cotton to include underwear. Go instead for any of the newer moisture-wicking fabrics.
Eat/drink during the race:
Most people do not have enough glycogen storage capacity to complete a full long race of at least two hours. To carry you through to the end (or at least farther down the road), eat a high carb energy bar mid-way to delay the burning of fat. A couple hundred calories may be all you need to sustain you to the end.
Water is the catalyst necessary for your body to keep your muscles working. Even a 2% to 3% loss of body weight due to water loss is enough to alter your pace negatively. A good rule of thumb is to bypass the first water station (because everybody is already stopping there) and choose one further down the road that is less crowded. You’ll be able to grab something faster without impacting your time. Keep hitting the water stations as you progress along the race.
Maintain your pace:
With everyone starting off faster than they should, it is easy to get caught up with keeping up with the group. Don’t do it; run your own race by keeping to your pace time. Steady wins every time!
Use this advice as a guideline to four important things you should do prior to and during a race. They can make a difference in your performance.