It's the day of the race and your nerves are probably on edge. This can be a good or bad thing, but look at it positively as it prepares your body for the day ahead. This happens to experienced athletes as well as beginners, the prepared and the under prepared. In reality I have never met a runner who feels that they have trained enough, so don`t worry about it, if you have followed the personal schedule written for you , you will be ready. Race day nerves are normal, even saying "race day" can fill some people with trepidation, so try to think of your run as just another long jog. If you think this way it will also stop you running too fast at the beginning.
The first thing to do is to get a good nights sleep the night before the night before. So if your long jog is on a Sunday, a good nights sleep on Friday is advisable. Often we are nervous or our minds are racing around too much on the Saturday night to get a good sleep. If you are sleeping in a hotel or other strange bed this takes the pressure off trying to sleep the night before the run. If you can have a lie in on the Saturday morning, enjoy it.
If you are staying away from home remember to pack all you need for your run, this may include
• race no.
• safety pins
• running kit
• warm pre-race clothes
• waterproofs(bin bags can be good)
• energy gels/bars
• gel carrier
• water bottle
Don`t try anything you haven`t used before.
Depending on the start time of the race, this will dictate what time your alarm goes off. Always allow yourself ample time as it can appear to go very quickly.
How long before the start do you need to eat?
People vary considerably on this. I like to have my breakfast at least 3 hrs before the start. So if a race starts at 10a.m. I like to eat between 6.30a.m.and 7a.m. One of my clients can eat anytime, it seems to have no impact on him. This is something you will need to practice.
What to have for breakfast?
Again people vary, however it is definitely best to have something. I have found that as much porridge as I can eat, a glass of orange juice and a strong sweet black coffee does it for me. Some will eat toast, some pasta, and others yoghurt. As I have discussed in the pre- race races section that is when you should practice, not on race day. And you should have practiced, don`t leave it until the day itself. Doing a long jog requires energy, so take some on-board. On the journey to the race I will also sip an energy drink, but not too much to keep me going to the loo. On this subject if your urine is clear you don`t need to keep drinking. Also stop drinking about 1/2 hr before the start(unless its very hot). This allows you to go to the loo when hopefully the queues are not too long.
I will also have an energy bar 1hr before the start and a gel with 10-15mins to go, just as a final top up. Easy to digest, especially if you have practiced.
Getting to the race
Always give yourself plenty of time to get to the race and then to the start. Car parks are not always next to the start. If you are in an area you don`t know well you may get lost, and this will stress you out. If you do get there early at least you can familiarise yourself with the start and then sit in the car and relax. If you are unable to sit in the car because the start is too far away, then find a quiet place and sit down( on the bin bag) out of the sun if its a hot day, and preserve your energy. As the start time gets closer you can do some mobility and stretching exercises( if its a marathon) and 5-10mins very easy jog for a shorter distance. I don`t do a warm up for a marathon as its long enough already. I just set off at a slower than average pace for the first few miles.
To help you stop getting nervous think back to why you are doing the run. Is it a personal challenge, or for charity. Think back to how you where when you first started training for the run and how much training you have done and how much you have improved. Think about how you will run the long jog , nice and easy to start, no pressure. All this will help you relax and motivate you. Certainly if you have done the work, tapered and eaten properly you will have done all you could have done, so relax.
Last topic, don`t miss the start. Get to your starting position about 5mins before the gun goes off if possible. Stand in an appropriate place. A lot of runners try and go to the front but if you are slightly slower you can end up being jostled and pulled along at a faster pace than you intended.
So relax, smile and wait for the gun. Its your big day, stick to your plan and go for it.