Race Day Prep – 10 things to make race day exciting and successful

To compete – Latin – “to come together, to strive alongside another”

Race day can be so exciting yet it can cause so much anxiety and distress. It’s a day we all train for and talk about for week’s or months, but when it actually arrives we can have thoughts and feelings that are not so pleasant. The question of “why did I sign up for this race”  often arises. I tend to set race day expectations for myself, but as race day approaches I often start feeling self doubt about meeting those goals.  I’ve tried to set a routine leading up to race day to help calm those negative feelings, and also add back the excitement that racing should bring. I like to remind myself of the actual meaning of competition.  Race day is not about battling it out against everyone else on the course. Rather, it is a day that I get to go out and run with others, not against them. When I line up to race with my competitors, by giving their best effort, they will in turn bring out the best in me. When I give my best I will bring out the best in others. Competition is a positive thing not a negative, but I have to remind myself of this every once in awhile!

#1 Watch motivating videos / Listen to Podcasts / Read 

I often do all of these things almost every single day, however in the days leading up to a race I feel like I really load myself up on motivating material. Listening to podcasts, specifically one on a topic related to race day or a race recap I find very inspiring. I can almost envision myself in their shoes running that race or I try and gather helpful tips. I love watching YouTube videos or documentaries on running. The list of books on running and motivation is endless. I try to read a chapter a day or at least a few pages each night before bed.

#2 Pick your mantra

Having a race day mantra written on my arm or stuck in my mind is a helpful mental tool for when the race gets tough. This is a phrase I repeat over and over again in my head when it’s time to really dig deep. My last race I used the mantra “Champions never give up”. Such a simple sentence that had such a big impact. There were moments in the race when my legs felt so weak I thought I might fall right to the ground. But repeating this mantra gave me something to focus on other than my weak legs, and it helped me to keep pushing. Find a mantra that means something to you, and then use it in your next race to get you to that finish line.

#3 Be Lazy

In the final days before a race I try to be as lazy as possible. I want to really WANT to run on race day. I want to have that built up energy. No hard supplemental workouts, especially ones that will make my legs sore, and I try and leave a lot of the extra strenuous house cleaning duties for after the race! It’s hard as a runner to lay around , and not be productive but having the confidence to know that the work has been done is important.

#4 Paint my nails

I keep my nails unpainted for the most part between races, it’s just easier, saves me time and money. But I love to paint them the day before my race, not only is it calming and something to focus on other than running, but for some reason it adds an extra excitement to race day to have fun painted nails. Sounds pretty silly but it’s a routine I’ve started to really enjoy.

#5 Visualize your race day

The power of visualization is great. I spend some time leading up to a race visualizing my self running the course, and crossing the finish line strong, smiling, and a winner.  Will I actually win the race, no, but I will be a winner in my mind by having a strong race and meeting my personal goals.  I also visualize what I will do (take a gel, etc) at what points in the race. Having a positive image of yourself on race day, and in the race will help translate to a better race day.

#6 Run the course

If possible I always try to run the course or a portion of the course before the race. Mentally it helps me so much if I can picture the actual course in my mind, and I know what to expect thru out the race. In all my races I have done much better in terms of results when I’ve actually ran the course beforehand.

#7 Pick out your race outfit

This is such an exciting part of getting ready for race day. I like to pick out my outfit a day or two in advance. I lay it all out, maybe try it on one last time. It should be something I’ve worn before so no surprises. I also lay out all my race day essentials, shoes, socks, sports bra,  Nuun, gels, bib. When everything is laid out and ready it will make race morning much less stressful. Choose an outfit that makes you feel good, that you know you’re comfortable wearing, and you will feel even more confident race morning.

#8 Make-up

Race morning feels almost like getting ready for a day job. It’s proven you are more productive if you dress up rather than wear casual clothes to work. So race morning, I like to put on just a touch of make up – 5 mins tops. This is just an extension to having a good race outfit that makes you feel good and confident.

#9 Breakfast

I like to cut back on caffeine a few days before race day – we all know from my previous blog post that cutting it out for good is a no go for me. However a small cutback still helps me to really look forward to it on race day. I also have a breakfast that I eat on race morning but not too often any other days of the week. English muffin with PB and banana. This is almost like a treat for me, so it makes race morning extra exciting!! BTW- I know this meal works ok for me during a race. I would not recommend trying a new food routine on race morning.

#10 Remember why

When the race day nerves start to creep up and the self doubt comes on, I sit back and think about why I signed up for the race. I look back thru my training log and remind myself how far I’ve come. I set a few goals for the race, and most importantly remind myself that I am running my own race. I need to stay focused on myself, and what I am there to accomplish, and not get pulled into anyone else’s race/pace. This will help to ensure I have the best possible race I can have.

I hope everyone has a great racing season! Do you have any race day prep ideas that you would like share? Please leave a comment!!

3 thoughts on “Race Day Prep – 10 things to make race day exciting and successful

  1. Kim K.

    These are great! I do a lot of these for goal races. I am particularly lazy leading up to any race. My BF knows not to make plans for us (like apple picking) because that involves movement 😉 I love watching motivational movies (spirit of the marathon, without limits, etc.) before big races. As we previously discussed, I cut out coffee and drink tea leading up to my race. I cut out booze (last year I didn’t drink for a month leading up to Philly but this year I will just cut out a week). Oh, and I also like to plan what I am going to eat/drink/wear post-race!


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