Race Day Prep

Race Day Preparation

From Coach Eric Barron of Track Club LA

1. Sleep. Having spent weeks training for the Santa Monica Classic, do not throw away that effort by making any foolish moves race day morning, so keep the following in mind. It helps to get a good night’s sleep before your race, but do not panic if you had a restless Saturday night. Indeed, given that your nerves might keep you jittery that night, you can store up on your rest if you sleep in Saturday morning.

2. Wake. Sunday morning, wake at least 90 minutes before your race. Sure, you can roll out of bed at the last minute and stagger to the start, but you will not run your best in these conditions. Once you do get up, whether you eat or not is up to what works for you.

3. Eat (or not). Unlike a marathon, a 10K is short enough that you need not worry about storing calories for use during the race. If you prefer to run on an empty stomach, pass on the food. If you want to eat to avoid gnawing hunger pangs, stick with food that you know you can digest easily (for many, that means a banana or a bagel), and drinks that will not make you run for the bathroom too often.

4. Warm up. To be safe, arrive at the race about an hour before your start time. By the time you park, pick up your bib number (if you do not already have it), pin your number to your shirt, and chat with other runners, it will be about 40 minutes before race time. If you followed the beginning training plan, you should now spend about 15 minutes walking around. This will not tire you out, but rather stimulate great blood flow to your legs, which is just what you want when you run. If you followed the intermediate training plan, spend 5 minutes walking, then 10 minutes running at a normal, conversational pace. If you followed the advanced training plan, spend about 10-15 minutes running at a normal, conversational pace, then another 5 minutes running at a pace somewhere between your normal pace and your race pace.

5. Last minute stuff. After your warm-up, you should have a few minutes left for stretching and visiting your friend Andy Gump (a.k.a. the port-a-john), if necessary. Try to be in the start area ready to run about 5 minutes before your race. Where you line up in the start area depends on how fast you will be running. The faster you run, the farther in front you belong (this is for everyone’s safety, including your own). If you feel that you have cooled off already, do some jumping jacks or run a few 10-second strides to get your heart beating fast again. Otherwise, try to relax and envision a great race.

6. The race is on. Once the gun goes off, try not to let your adrenaline rush lead you to a burst of speed that you will not hold. World records at these distances are set with an even pace throughout the race because an even pace physiologically leads us to our maximal performance. Just because the pace is even, that does not mean it will not be taxing toward the end of the race. It will, so be prepared to feel some discomfort; accept it, and know that you are earning the satisfaction of having run a great race. One note of caution: should it be a hot day, you must back off the pace that you could have held on a cooler day, or you will suffer unnecessarily.

7. The race is over. Congratulations you can stop running now and celebrate (though advanced runners might choose to jog for 5-15 minutes to help aid post-race recovery). Enjoy the food, trade race stories with your friends, thank the race day volunteers, and enjoy more food. You deserve it.