Race Day Running Routine

What you can do on race day so you can focus on running fast

You really want to run fast – that’s the goal of racing, right? Getting everything out of yourself on race day is complicated because there are so many factors that go into performing at a high level. As you know, a lot goes into running fast. It’s so much more than being physically prepared; there’s also the mental side of our sport that can either push you to greatness or can be your demise. I know a lot of runners who are in peak fitness shape and yet cannot perform to the level they’d hoped to have achieved. Why is that?

There are ways in which we can prime our bodies (and our mind) in order to perform at our best. The more prepared you are, the better you will perform!

TrainwithMarc's Race Day Routine
Race Day Routine

Before Race Day

Before race day even arrives, there are routines you can follow to prime your body to perform well.  When you follow a routine, not only do you prepare your body for the challenges ahead, but you also get your mind in the right spot.

  • Run the day before the race. 20-30 minutes of light and easy running followed by a few striders at the end. The easy run let’s you get your legs moving and the striders prime you for the fast running. I’ll start with strides slower than, at race pace, and slightly faster than race pace.
  • Give yourself ample time between your last run and race time. If I have an early morning weekend race, I try and also run somewhat early the day before so I can have at least 20 hours of time between my last run and warm ups.
  • Mentally prepare by visualizing success.
  • Create a race plan with SMART goals.
  • Pack your race bag.
  • Create and follow a race day checklist (where to park, when to warm up, etc)

TrainwithMarc's Race Day Running Routine
Race Day Routine

Race Day

On race day, give yourself ample time to get to the race, acclimate to the conditions, and warm up properly. This should include packet pickup, bathroom runs, and then a few extra minutes for the unknown – pinning on your bib, putting on your compression socks, linking your GPS, etc.

I like to be at a race about 75 minutes before the race is supposed to start. This gives me 45-60 minutes to warm up and 15 to take care of everything else.

7 Pre-Race Day Tips to Run Your Fastest
Pre-Race Day Tips

During my warm-up routine, here are the things I do to make sure I’m prepped and ready to race fast once the gun goes off.

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Race Day Routine

  • Pre-run drills – this includes glute activation exercises such as clam shells, donkey kicks, fire hydrants and squats.
  • Start jogging slowly and build pace throughout until you are sweating (10-25 minutes). My warm-up pace is super slow compared to most everyone else, but that is a personal preference and it works for me. As far as distance I cover, it depends on my weekly mileage and the race distance. For mile races, I suggest at least 2-3 miles of easy running. For a 5k, I’ve run 3 miles for a warm up. Longer races require less, but still more than 1.5 miles. Prior to a marathon, 5-10 minutes of jogging is plenty.
  • Do active warm-up drills. This includes walking drills (active stretches) and moves to more dynamic drills (such as A-skip, B-skip, hops, and skips).
  • Change into racing attire. Put on my racing shoes and singlet, then put warm up clothes back on to stay warm.
  • Strides. In the minutes before the race, I do 4+ strides starting easy and building in both pace and length. This allows my body to gradually get used to the pace.

Now that I’ve done this entire routine, not only am I mentally prepared but also physically primed to race fast. All that is left is to wait for the starter’s gun.

Race Day Routine to Run Your Fastest
Race Day Routine

After the Race

After the race, I change clothes and shoes and begin my cool down. My cool down pace is typically measured in time only – focusing on covering, for example, 15 or 20 minutes regardless of the pace.

There you have it. My pre-race and race day routines to running as fast as possible.

What do you think of the routine?


Need more?

How to mentally prepare for a peak race

Race day checklist – what to bring, etc

Blog Articles Related to Preparation for Running


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Coach Marc does strides after easy runs to prime his legs

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Marc uses a massage gun to loosen up his legs

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Marc running a popup 5k in Haddonfield

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