Pre-Race “To Do’s” for Your Best Running Race

Runner - breast cance 22I’m ready to go for tomorrow’s Donna Breast Cancer 1/2 Marathon here in Jacksonville, FL.  Both the 1/2 marathon and the full marathon are wildly popular races for so many reasons.  It draws the elite runners and, more importantly, it attracts athletes of all ages with the simple goal of finishing the race to both enlighten their lives and to combat breast cancer.

I have dozens of friends running and walking the race tomorrow.  I’m excited to see them out on the race course and to watch their rewarding joy as they cross the finish line.  I’ve been getting calls, texts and emails all week from the less experienced racers looking for advice.  I promised them I’d summarize these tips on a blog post today to help them and others.  “Enhancing the health of others” is my personal Mission Statement.

Pre-Race Tips

Nutrition – Keep your food and drinks simple the night before and the morning of the race.  Make them “stomach friendly”: Nothing spicy,nothing sweet.  Go heavy carbs with starches such as breads, grains, rice, pasta and potatoes.  Drinks – Gatorade and water before, during and after the race.  Remember that cold air is very dry air.  That means that you need to drink more fluids in cold weather then you think you do.

Clothing – Tomorrow will be in the low 30’s so prepare for a chilly stand-around and start to the race.  Wear 2-3 layers and make sure cotton is not your most inner shirt.  Putting a sweat-wicking shirt like Dry-Fit against the skin is your best option.  I love to wear socks for gloves to start the race.  They make great booger rags and it’s never a problem to throw them in the trash during the race. You’ll lose most of your heat from your heat so for a cool race, keep your head covered.

Lube Up – Vaseline is always in my Race Bag.  A coating of Vaseline on my toes, heels, inner thighs, nipples (I can hear you laughing now) and even my face when it’s very cold is priceless.

Get Off Your Feet – Your legs will be working their kneecaps off during the race so give them a break just before the start of the race.  I’ve sat in the middle of the road, on the beach, on a fence and even on a mailbox to rest my legs just before the race begins.  If your legs are just 5% fresher when the starting gun goes off, it can help you run 2 minutes faster in a 1/2 marathon.

Toeing the Line – As you walk to the starting line, always have a 1/2 bottle of Gatorade in your hand and, if cold, a warm throw-away shirt on.  Getting a last-minute drink and staying warm can make your running race a much happier event.

Attitude Check – My best races almost always come when I have an upbeat and relaxed mindset.  Laughing more, living in the moment, smiling more and joking with my fellow racers always results in a faster time on the clock and a more enjoyable race for me.  Give it a try.

Running Race Summary

Unless you pay your bills with the earnings from road races, your race should be low stress experience.  Sure it’s not easy, it requires lots of effort on your part and it can hurt at times.  With these simple tips and the right attitude, the running race will be a very positive experience, leaving you plotting your next race!

Author: Mike Ryan

After 26 seasons as a full-time certified athletic trainer and registered physical therapist in the National Football League, Mike Ryan has outstanding first-hand experience. His unique professional and athletic background has sharpened his skills in the arts of sports injury management, elite rehabilitation, performance enhancement and injury prevention. Mike is now taking his experience to mainstream America. His mission is simple: Sports Medicine advice that is easy to use and brings fast results. Learn more about Mike Ryan

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