Have you ever gotten to a start line and asked yourself “What the heck am I doing?” Hopefully not, but if you have, there’s really nothing you can do in that moment.
Never put yourself in that situation again. With a little planning, you can be ready for ANYTHING – and your stress level will be at an all time low.
Use this race day checklist to plan for your next race and never be surprised by anything on race day ever again.
What am I going to eat?
Knowing what you’ll eat and drink 48 hours, 24 hours, and day of the race is important. Don’t neglect planning for this. When you are traveling for a race in a new city, locate places where you’ll enjoy the meal. Have a plan in mind for when you’ll eat, what you’ll eat and where you can find snacks. If you are racing close to home, prepare healthy, balanced meals that you know sit well with your stomach. In either race situation – close to home or across the globe – bring snacks that you are familiar with. You don’t want to have the first few miles of the race searching for a porta-john.
Where’s the best place to park?
If it’s a big city race or has potential parking issues, you’d better have an idea of where to park before the race starts without you.
If you can, bring a non-racer with you as your chauffeur. Have them drop you off and find parking while you get any last minute tasks done.
If you are familiar with the area, but can’t park close by, try warming up to the starting line. I wouldn’t suggest this method if it’s your peak race as this can be a bit more stressful than a typical warm up.
If you find you can’t locate a parking spot, don’t panic. Stay calm and think how you can best resolve the issue.
What’s the course like?
Regardless of what race distance you’re running, you should do a bit of research prior to race day and find out what the course is like. Are there hills or sharp turns? You may not know this if you haven’t looked at the course prior to the race. It’s not always easy, for example, to run a marathon course prior to race day, but you could run sections of it or you could jump on youtube and do some internet scouting of the course.
Nowadays, most courses have online maps. They are there for a reason! Knowing when a hill is coming or a 180* turn around can ease your mind and help you prepare for the course.
At the very least, you should know what the last mile looks like. At the end of a hard race, it’s very helpful to know when the finish line is coming. You’ll be thankful you did when you’re tired and searching for the end.
What’s the weather going to be like?
Pack for the worst case scenarios. You can always take clothes off if you have them, but if you don’t have anything to put on, you’re SOL. Be prepared for rain, snow, wind, sunshine, heat wave or ice storm. You can never be too over prepared, just under prepared.
Here’s what I bring to every race:
2 pairs of socks
2 pairs of shoes (racing and running shoes)
Warm up gear, including running jacket, running tights, and multiple light layers
Winter hat/gloves (when appropriate)
What’s my pace? What should my finishing time be?
Going into the race, you should know what you’re capable of and set a realistic goal based on the training you’ve done. If you’ve run the course before, you’ll be able to compare your current fitness to your previous fitness and predict your finishing time. If you’ve done everything the same, you should still be able to run faster because you’ve logged more cumulative miles than the previous year.
Having a Plan B is very important as well. You’ll want to make sure you account for and prepare for something to go wrong. If your shoes come untied or you require an extra bathroom break, what are you going to do? You’ll have already thought about it, planned for it and it won’t be a big deal.
Bottom line. Just because you’re not a professional runner, doesn’t mean you can’t prepare like one. Be sure to do your homework before you lace up for your next race.
You’ll want your GPS charged, your favorite race attire washed and ready, and a familiar meal prepped and ready to devour. If you take care of the basic racing essentials, you won’t be caught on race day lost and without a clue.
When all else fails, you can always “KEEP CALM AND TRAIN WITH MARC!”