Get ready to race

15 January 2015 by
First published: 24 January 2015

Be prepared for the big day with Bethan Taylor’s top tips to get ready to race.

The date’s been in your diary for months, and all you can think about is the big race that’s now just a week away. You’re raring to go after all those early starts and long weekend runs, and you can’t wait to cross the start line and show the world what you’ve got.

Whether you’re running 5k or a full-on marathon, what you do in the days and hours leading up to the big day could make all the difference when it comes to smashing your goals. So get prepared with our our top five tips to help you get race-ready, have an awesome day and finish strong!

1. Pack your race bag well in advance

The last thing you want on race day is to realise you’ve forgotten an essential! ‘You’ll be nervous enough on race morning without having to worry about what you need and what not to forget,’ says Elle Linton, personal trainer, blogger and fitness expert for the Cancer Research London Winter Run. When you’re packing, Elle suggests ‘keeping in mind how you’ll feel post-race (hungry?!) and any extra layers or changes of clothes you might need.’ So make sure you pack that extra protein bar and a snug hoodie for the journey home.

2. Stick with what you’ve tried and tested

Thinking of wearing a new top on race day, or maybe trying a gel you haven’t used before? Elle’s advice? ’Test everything before race day!’ You don’t want any nasty surprises like chafing, blisters or an upset tummy on the day, so she suggests using your training run as a test. ‘What drinks work best for you? What snacks and gels agree with you? When do you need them? Train in your race day outfit too to make sure it fits well and doesn’t hinder your performance.’

3. Shake out and put your feet up

24 hours to go and the nerves are running high, so keep calm and shake out! ‘A shake-out run the day before gets your legs ready for what’s in store the following day,’ says Elle, who reckons 3k at a nice, easy pace is just perfect. Now’s also the time to rest. Elle’s advice is that ‘if your schedule allows, stay off your feet as much as possible so your feet are fresh for race day.’ We recommend using it as an excuse to catch up on all those box sets you didn’t watch because you were training!

4. Stay warm on the start line

Standing around shivering is never fun, especially before a big race. ‘For races in cold weather you might be on the start line a while before heading off, so be ready for the cold with some layers that you don’t mind never seeing again,’ advises Elle. Don’t worry about discarding your old clothes, they’re usually picked up and donated to charity after the race. No old sweats kicking around? ‘A bin bag also works wonders too!’ says Elle.

5. Plan your race day strategy

The secret to race day success? A really great strategy that gets your head in the right place! Elle’s top tip is to ‘break down the race in your head. Use this to pace yourself and remain consistent.’ So if you’re running a marathon, break it down and think of it as four 10k races (and a little bit)! ‘The mind is a powerful thing so once you have that on your side, you’ll be surprised at what you can do!’ says Elle. Mind over matter, and all that.