As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail!!!
Nothing is truer with racing. Here’s the ideal approach:
The day before the race
1. The most important thing to remember is to relax.
2. Prepare all your race kit .If you have your number already, pin it to the front of your race T-shirt. Double-check the start time and travel directions.
3. Decide on a race plan. If you’re aiming for a specific time, work out your target mile splits for the race. Choose even splits or a slightly faster second half. Copy the splits upside down onto your number, or keep the plan with your kit and copy it onto your forearm when you arrive at the race.
4. Drink plenty (but steer clear of alcohol). (You can use the urine test! It should be almost clear if you are properly hydrated). Have two glasses of water when you get up, and carry a bottle of water with you wherever you go. Have a tried-and tested pre-run supper, and if it’s a long race (half-marathon or more), take special care to eat plenty of low-fat, high-carbohydrate food during the day, such as bread and pasta. But don’t get bloated.
5. Don’t plan a day of hectic shopping, gardening, or anything else that will keep you on your feet for most of the day. Just relax.
On the morning of the race
1. Start with a shower to wake you up.
2. Drink 500-750ml of water to replace any fluids you have lost overnight.
3. Make sure you have breakfast. Your body will have burnt 400-600 calories overnight. These need to be replaced with easily digested foods (porridge, bread and honey or jam). Avoid anything greasy, heavy or that you know from experience leaves you bloated.
4. Head to the race. Aim to arrive 60 minutes before the start — just remember to factor in plenty of time if there may be parking difficulties or you have to collect your race number. This will give you time to use the loo, get changed, drop off your kit bag, find the start line, and warm up.
5. About 25 minutes before the race starts, do an easy jog to warm up. Try to remember that your warm-up should be inversely proportional to the race distance i.e. if you are racing a 5K then a 2 min jog is not enough whereas racing a half marathon may only require a light jog to the start as you can use the opening of the race to ease up to your race pace.
In the race
1. Don’t go off too fast. If you’ve made a pace chart of your mile splits, make sure that you follow it.
2. If things start to go wrong, don’t worry — just ease down and assess how you actually feel.
3. Walk through the drinks stations to ensure that you hydrate properly. For races over 10 miles, consider taking energy gels to restock your energy reserves (but practice using them in training first).
4. Enjoy the work. This will sound strange, but even if you’re having a slow race, have fun. There will always be more races on other days.
5. Only speed up in the last mile (1-2km) for a 5K, two miles (3km) for a 10K, and three miles for a half-marathon.