The Do's and Don'ts of Race Week

Are You Ready to Have a Successful Race Week?

In the days leading up to a race, you will likely be really excited and nervous at the same time. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into training, and now it’s almost time to see the results! During race week, there are certain things you can do to help boost your performance. Likewise, there are some common pitfalls to avoid.

Here are some basic do’s and don’ts for race week to help you get the most out of your training.

Eating and Drinking

Do:

  • Drink plenty of water during race week to make sure that you’re well-hydrated going into the race. This will help you keep your energy up during the race.
  • On the morning of the race, drink water in the hours leading up to the start but only sip water during the final hour. Drinking too much water right before running will make your stomach feel sloshy and can slow you down.
  • Maintain your nutrition during race week. By this point in your training, you should know what snacks and meals work well for you and boost your running ability. Stick to what’s been working.

Don’t:

  • Don’t go overboard eating carbs. While it is recommended to eat more carbohydrates during race week, don’t eat anything so heavy that it will weigh you down during the race. Eating light, carb-filled snacks in the days before the race is great. Chowing down on pizza the night before the race is not.
  • This should go without saying, but don’t drink too much alcohol in the days leading up to the race, especially the night before the race. Showing up to your race hungover will slow you down significantly and make the whole event less fun.

Training

Do:

  • Significantly reduce your training during race week. You don’t want to exercise hard enough to make your muscles sore or tired right before the race. Save that energy for the race and push yourself when it counts.
  • Still exercise a bit to keep your muscles from getting stiff. You could go for a light run or just some walks around the neighborhood. The key to training during race week is to keep it light.

Don’t:

  • Don’t try to squeeze any last-minute strength or speed training into race week. You may be tempted to try to push yourself one last time, but fight that urge. You should have completed all of your strength and endurance training in the weeks leading up to the race. So this final week is more about staying loose than making gains.

Handling Stress

Do:

  • Acknowledge that you will likely be a little stressed or anxious during race week, especially the day before the race. You’ve been prepping for this event for a while, so it makes sense that you might be nervous in the days leading up to the race. Try to channel that energy into excitement rather than stress.
  • Plan ahead in order to reduce your stress. Do your race prep the day before the race rather than the morning of the race. Think through everything that you’ll need before the race, during the race, and after the race. Then lay it all out or pack it so it’s ready to go in the morning.
  • Plan to arrive at the starting line a little early. This will give you plenty of time to find parking, use the bathroom, stretch, and find your place at the starting line. Nothing creates stress on race morning like running late to the starting line.

Don’t:

  • Don’t forget your race bib. It’s one of the few things you’re actually required to have in order to race, so make sure you bring it. You could put it in your car the night before the race or even attach it to your running shirt preemptively. Realizing that you forgot your bib at home creates a lot of stress on race morning, and it can derail your whole race.
  • Don’t focus on anything that makes you anxious about the run. Remember why this sport is fun and focus on that. You’re going to run a cool route with a lot of people and spectators to cheer you on during the race. Try to focus on the fun aspects of the race more than anything else.
Motivational Running Quotes featured image of runner running on road during sunset

RELATED: Motivational Quotes for Your Next Race

“Good health, peace of mind, being outdoors, camaraderie: those are all wonderful things that come to you when running. But for me, the real pull of running—the proverbial icing on the cake—has always been racing.”
— Bill Rodgers, winner of four Boston Marathons

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Wearing the Right Clothing

Do:

  • At the beginning of race week, check the forecast for the week. Make sure you’re prepared for whatever the weather might throw at you.
  • If the weather will be cold, dress in layers but make sure that your outer layers are disposable or easily carried. You’ll warm up quickly as you start running, and you don’t want to be encumbered by bulky clothing.

Don’t:

  • Race week is not the time to try out new clothing. Don’t try to break in a new pair of running shoes or a new outfit. Stick to the gear you’ve been using. If you try to break in new gear, you run the risk of blistering and chafing. You want to be at the top of your game on race day, and blisters or chafing will just slow you down.

Setting Goals

Do:

  • If you’re focused on completing the race in a certain time, set a couple of goals for yourself (RELATED: Setting Proper Race Goals). Your primary goal should be the ideal time that you’re really hoping to achieve. Your secondary goal should be a time that will still make you happy to achieve even if it’s not ideal. By having a backup goal, you allow yourself to stay present during the run and keep a positive mindset.

Don’t:

  • Don’t get too disheartened if the weather conditions thwart your goals. If it’s especially rainy, windy, hot, or cold, you might not be able to run at your peak performance. This will be less stressful and disappointing if you’ve mentally prepared for that scenario.

Written by Heather West, Content Writer

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