Race Day Tips & Tricks

Click here for a PDF printable of these Race Day Tips.

You’ve trained and prepared, and now the time has come to put all that hard work to the test. Most of us feel a bit unprepared when race day is on the horizon. Whether this is your first event or your 100th, there are a few tips and tricks that can make event day much more enjoyable.

Race Day Tips and Tricks

The best mental strategy of all is this: Trust your training. You have everything in you to accomplish your task! Then have fun and enjoy the journey.

Whether you are doing an official race or an event of your own creation, here are some helpful guidelines for making your day as successful as possible:

  • Nothing new on race day. Wear the same shoes, same socks, same workout clothes you’ve worn before. Eat foods you are familiar with and follow a similar routine. (Including the day before.) This isn’t the day to try out brand new running shoes – no matter how fast they look!
  • Don’t worry if you can’t sleep the night before. I’ve done a lot of tossing and turning the night before a big race. You’ll be fine the next morning even if you didn’t get much sleep the night before. Naps are great the afternoon after a big race.
  • Lay out all your gear the night before. (Some people call this their “Flat Sara” or their “Flat Jill.” 😎  ) Walk through your race day and think of what you will need. Put out your clothes, your race number, hat, shoes, socks, clothes, and get your breakfast ready. Have your coffee pot ready to go. Do you need a map to get to the location? Money for parking? Little details matter.
  • Get to the race plenty early.
  • Bathroom issues – you might have ‘em. Don’t be surprised if you spend extra time in the port-a-potty line. Race day nerves do that to the best of us. Bringing along your own toilet paper and other supplies can be a smart idea.
  • When the gun goes off, don’t start too fast. Run your own race. Stick with your program as you have trained for it. Race day adrenaline is probably making you go faster than you realize. It’s okay to go a little faster but don’t burn out in the first mile.
  • Prepare in advance some mantras for the hard moments: “This is fun. You’ve got this. Shut up, legs! Just keep moving. When I’m done I can have a beer. I am strong.”
  • There is a moment ¾ of the way through any event when you hit a low. A wise coach told me this and I’ve never forgotten it. This is true of races and most challenges in life. When these thoughts of “I don’t want to be here. This isn’t fun anymore,” hit, recognize it for what it is. It’s just the 3/4th of the way through thoughts. Slow down a little if necessary, but keep moving. Eventually those thoughts will pass and it will get better.
  • When you cross the finish line, smile, throw your arms over your head, and be proud of what you have accomplished! This is your moment!

What are your race day tips and tricks?