- Follow a training program. While I do know of several people who “didn’t even train,” or just ran a long race, “on a whim,” and I realize it’s doable…I wouldn’t recommend it. Following a training program gives you the physical stamina and training you’ll need and the mental ease of knowing you’ve put your time in and that your body is prepared. Put your program up on a wall somewhere you can see it and mark off your days as you go. It will keep you accountable and get you psyched for race day!
- Mimic your “race day” routine on your long runs. Use your training time as your trail times. Get your pre race meals down pat. Find what works for you nutrition-wise BEFORE race day. The last thing you want is to get racing and have digestion problems. Find the clothing that you know will be comfortable for race day. Practice running with your water belt if you’re going to run with one. Try and get all of the “what if’s” out of the way by feeling confident with your routine. That mental reassurance will allow you to not worry about everything else, and just focus on your run.
- Listen to your body. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that sometimes injuries aren’t just the running aches and pains. If you have something really bothering you get it looked at, and take care of it. If you are told to rest it, REST IT. It’s not worth furthering injury and taking yourself out for longer time than is needed.
- Don’t forget to include corework, stretching, and strength training. Runners often times focus so much on their running workouts that they fail to get in the necessary resistance training and core work. YOU NEED IT. It will make you a better, stronger runner. You will have less injury, and you will be a better athlete overall. Along side this don’t forget to stretch. Take the time. I promise you won’t regret it.
- Get prepped! Lay out your goods, down to the last sock, stick of gum, and breakfast item. Think about things like hair ties, hats, shot blocks, sunglasses, sunscreen, all the little details. Go from head to toe and make sure you are covered. Knowing you have that all taken care of will help you to (attempt) to get some sleep.
- Know your start info like the back of your hand. Be sure you are fully aware of where you are to be at to start, how to get there, and what time you need to be there. Making sure these details are taken care of before your race will help your morning to go smoothly and will allow you to feel less stressed!
- Get a good “last supper.” Remember to eat a good carb-ified meal. Try to go easier on the high fiber foods, and make sure you get in plenty of water. Eat things that are “normal” to you. Remember you don’t want to throw in any weird new foods that might throw you off. Not a good night to try out that new greasy mexican restaurant in town.
- Get some rest. Do all you can to get to bed early and try and relax. It’s always hard to sleep when you’re excited and anxious about the morning, but set a couple of alarms if you’re worried about not waking up on time. Take a hot bath. Have your husband tickle your arm until you fall asleep…you get it.
- Get a good breakfast. Since you already have tried out your pre-race meals you know it’s going to fuel you perfectly. Get some water in, and get on the road. Don’t forget to refuel along the way during your race, as you have practiced in your training. Aid stations are there for a reason! Take advantage.
- Take lots of pictures!! I love pictures, so I’m all about this one. However, you want this awesome event to be documented so be sure to bring someone along who can play paparazzi for you!
- Dress accordingly. If you are running in colder weather go to the local thrift store before hand and buy some cheap-o gloves and a ratty sweatshirt that you can just toss when you get warm enough. This is a great time to make the other racer’s jealous of your sweet throwback/hypercolor/fluorescent off the shoulder sweatshirt you picked up for $2.50 at the local goodwill. It will also make for some great photos.
- HAVE FUN! Don’t let the race anxiety get to you. You’ve prepped for this. You’re trained. You are ready. Just go have fun! Do your best, and be proud of yourself! Don’t forget to soak up your surroundings. I am a total music marathoner, so I HAVE to have my headphones in to get me through, but I am always sure to pull them out every now and then to hear the cheering crowds and take it all in, ESPECIALLY at the finish line. You want to hear those people cheering you in!
- Take more pictures. You finished! You’re amazing!! Document it, sweaty forehead and all.
- Get your SWAG on. There is always tons of free stuff for the racers. Go take advantage. Be SURE to refuel your body with the goods they have for you on the way. Take time to get a massage. It’s great for your muscles to recoup and it’s all part of the experience.
- Stretch. This one is always a hard one for me. Greeting friends and family at the finish line, taking pictures, eating, getting massages, and everything else all trumps stretching and then suddenly I start to feel my muscles stiffening up. Take the time to stretch and you will feel less pain afterwords.
- Give yourself a pat on the back. You did it! Now go find your next event and get training!!
Hopefully some of these tips are helpful for you. One of the biggest things about a first time racer is the jitters that come with the unknown. Just be confident in your abilities and your training. Do all that you can beforehand to ensure a good race, and it will help ease your stress a bit. You can do it. You will be awesome!! GOOD LUCK!!
I hope I look that good after my race! Thanks, Megan!
If you haven’t yet, make sure to enter my giveaway HERE. Bonus entry (comment on the giveaway post) if you tell me a healthy tip in honor of Megan.