You've been training hard, or maybe not, but regardless, your big race is coming up fast. Avoid common mistakes and take advantage of these tips to perform at your best for your 10km run!
The day before:
Attend the pre-race expo and pick up your race bib, be sure to activate your bib or chip on your way out - ask at the race kit pick-up if this is necessary or not. You won't get an official time if you don't activate your bib! There will be lots of free samples of food, sport nutrition products and all kinds of gear to check out. This is especially common at marathon and half-marathon expos. Be sure that you avoid trying anything new the day before a race - take samples, save them for after your big finish.
Lay out two possible outfits. No, we're not concerned about fashion, we're thinking of function. Check the weather, plan two options based on rain or sun. Make a game-time decision on race morning as to what you're going to wear. You'll warm up while you run, so you can use old socks with the toes cut out as arm warmers if you plan to throw them away, or wear a long-sleeve shirt that you don't mind ditching on the course. You won't get your warm up gear back unless you do a bag check before you enter your start corral.
Eat Well. Be sure to consume enough food and water the day before a big race. Eat foods that you know your body tolerates well. At dinner time the night before, don't eat too much fiber - now is not the time to try a new greens supplement or eat a bunch of flaxseeds. You want to have a healthy poop before your race so that you don't feel weighed down, but you also don't want to run into what's called "runners trots" aka race morning diarrhea. Know your body, know what works well for you and practice your pre-race routine during your training.
Eat breakfast. Again, this is something you know your body digests well, and it should be consumed 1.5-2 hours before race start time. Personally, I do a smoothie, or gluten-free toaster waffles with a sliced banana and almond butter if I'm traveling. You'll want to bring a shake, snack or liquid carbohydrate to have about 30mins before race start time. Again, this should all be practiced during training. If you've never eaten before a run, fine, run without eating, there should be NO surprises on race day!
Put your race bib on. Personally, I like to wear a race belt so that I don't have to use safety pins to affix my bib to my clothing. If you wear a belt, you don't have to worry about shedding layers during the race if you get too hot. You must wear a race bib to race! Don't forget this crucial piece of equipment at home!
On the Course
Drink water. For a 10km run, your body won't need much extra fuel - unless you're on course for more than 90mins. If your run will take more than 90mins or you have trained with fuel previously, you may drink the on-course carb-drink (gatorade, powerade etc.) HOWEVER, be warned, if you haven't trained with these products DO NOT EXPERIMENT ON RACE DAY! You can easily pack the carb supplement that you've trained with by carrying a small 'sippy cup' like this. Remember, UNLESS you're on course for MORE THAN 90MINS your body doesn't need more fuel, your muscles can supply all the sugar that your body needs for activity under 90mins. Just drink water, and drink modest amounts, a couple sips at each rest station if you must.
HAVE FUN. There are usually a few on-course photographers, so be sure your race bib is visible with your race number and name, and that you're wearing your BEST SMILE because after all, racing is FUN, right? AND if you're not smiling, it's not worth it!
After the Race
Celebrate! Get hydrated, drink a protein shake or eat some meat, greek yogurt, nuts, legumes etc. Be sure to stretch tight muscles gently to avoid injury and make use of a foam roller if you have one. Focus on your quads, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors for stretching and foam rolling. If you go for a post-race massage, it should NOT be deep tissue work, just gentle muscle flushing, known as 'effleurage'. If you're really stiff, consider a magnesium supplement and/or an epsom salts bath. Use at least 2C of epsom salts for 1 standard sized bath tub.
What are YOUR race tips? Let me know in the comments!