The most common race-day tip from professional runners is “don’t start too fast.” As helpful, if not critically important, as this tip is, the truth is--there are plenty of uncommonly discussed mistakes most runners have learned the hard way.
From running a 5K to a full marathon or participating in an Iron Man, the following mistakes to avoid pre-race will help you be as prepared as possible for the strenuous mind and body events ahead.
Mistake 1: Carbo-Loading And Huge Meals
Yes, carbohydrates equal fuel for your body, which is needed to help make it to the finish line. Let’s not get that wrong.
The only problem with the common misconception to eat as much potato, pasta, and bread as you can for both breakfast and dinner is that your body isn’t used to this type of overload. Typical carbo-loading meals mean overeating heavy foods that are not in a normal diet. The body can’t process such meals and in return feels sluggish, tired, and foggy.
So, skip those all you can eat pasta dinners and huge breakfasts and go for vegetables full of carbs and usual meal sizes.
Mistake 2: Trying Out New Apparel
New sneakers and clothing might look good for pictures but could actually greatly affect your race.
You always want to know how your apparel performs before the race day. Breaking in your sneakers can help avoid blisters and injury while knowing proper layering techniques can help avoid shivering and chafing. Reality is, when it comes to racing, comfort and apparel go hand in hand. Choose wisely and strategically.
Mistake 3: Not Prepping For Chafing and Injury
Heading out on a race without proper body lubrication and taping is a big no, no.
A few factors lead to more chafing and injury while racing than training. These include clothing that becomes more sweaty than normal as well as increased fatigue. As such factors come into play, the body can start to hold itself differently, reacting abnormally to clothing and shoes. To help your body feel its best, lubricate everything. Cover your feet, legs, underarms, chest, waistband, and more. Tape areas that could become an issue and give yourself the additional protection you might need.
Being prepared is much better than running with bleeding nipples or worse.
Mistake 4: Consuming Unknown Gels, Liquids, and Too Much Water
One of the worst things you can do before a race is to give it the wrong things.
From all of the free samples like gels and power liquids to over-hydrating, you can easily overdo it while getting caught up in the pre-race jitters and fun. Unfortunately, all of this leads to cramping, bloating, and oh no, diarrhea. Drink water according to your thirst only, take an electrolyte you have used before, and do not consume anything your body does not already know.
Before a race, keep it easy and light. Wait until after a race to see what that new gel pack tastes like.
Mistake 5: Concentrating On Time
Nearly all runners enter a race with a goal. After spending months prepping, it is only natural to want to break a record or meet a certain time. However, watching the clock can actually kill your speed and focus.
Telling yourself mid-race that you need to speed up to meet your goal could actually lead to end-of-race burnout. Instead, concentrate on your pace, how your body feels, and give yourself some pep talks with a mantra or two. It will only be natural to have highs and lows during the race, but with a calm mind and a good focus on things other than time, you will find it easier to gain momentum that feels good.
After all, the best possible end result is you crossing the finish line feeling great.