The 7 Best Ways to Prepare for a Race

Race preparation for runners is super important for ensuring you get the most out of your run. By preparing, both physically and mentally, your body will be ready for the demands of the race, and you’ll also feel much more confident going into the competition than if you haven’t done the proper groundwork.

Depending on the length of your next race, your preparation will vary in length, intensity and effort. A local 5K run, for instance, will require relatively little training in comparison to a marathon – or something even longer. That said, many of the fundamentals remain the same, regardless of the kind of race you’re doing.

The following tips on race preparation for runners will help you feel confident before your upcoming race.

How to prepare for running in a race: 7 top tips

Here are ASICS’ 7 top tips on how to prepare for running in any kind of race:

1. Follow a training plan

A training plan helps you to consistently build up your experience and pace by running longer distances over a few weeks before the event itself. Training plans usually involve a number of ‘easier’ runs each week, plus one longer-distance session. Over time, the distance and intensity of the runs increase to help your body adapt to the demands of the final race.

There are tons of race plans online – you can find plenty of guidance and tailored running plans in our race training hub. It’s important to follow your race plan fairly strictly. While a few days missed here and there won’t be the end of the world, a running plan is invaluable for building up your fitness and will structure your training in a consistent way. That means you’ll be much better prepared for the race itself.

2. Have a race plan too

A race plan is another essential part in running any kind of race – be that a 10K or an ultra-marathon. A race plan is, fundamentally, an estimate of your target speed over the course of the race. Set yourself a target time for the race – say, 3:45 for a marathon, or 00:25 for a 5K, and then work out how many minutes you will have to complete each mile, or kilometre.

It’s generally recommended that racers find their ‘race pace’ – your time per mile – and stick to it. It can be tempting to rush ahead at the start of a race when you’re feeling excited and full of adrenaline, but this can come back to haunt you when you run out of energy further on.

3. Think about your diet

Diet is very important when it comes to healthy race preparation. The general recommendations for running training is to follow a standard ‘balanced diet’ during training (which includes all the main food groups in balanced proportions), and then, in the final couple of days before the race itself, you should ‘carb load’. Your body will turn these extra carbs into glycogen, which is essentially energy stored in the muscles to use on race day.

4. Remember correct hydration

Throughout your race preparation it’s important to keep hydrated, as you’ll lose more fluids than normal through perspiration. Most of your rehydration should come from taking on more water – although some runners choose to mix in specially designed running drinks, as these contain electrolytes to replace salts.

On the day of the race itself, the mantra for hydration should be ‘little and often’ – you don’t want to add too much weight or need the toilet, so take a couple of sips from your running bottle or from the cups at a roadside rehydration stand every 20 to 30 minutes.

5. Choose the right equipment

Wearing correct running shoes and gear can have a big impact on your race preparation, and the race itself. Choose running shoes which are specifically designed for running on roads (or trails for cross-country competitions) and also consider investing in clothes which allow for easy movements while dissipating moisture and heat effectively.

6. Familiarise yourself with the race route in advance

A great tip for race preparation for runners is to get to know the route in advance. Most organisers will provide a map of the route, including information on hills and other challenging topography. By studying this information in the days before the race, and familiarising yourself with when to expect those tougher areas, it will help a lot with your mental preparation – and enable you to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

7. Warm up appropriately

Warming up before a race is not only a useful way of reducing the risk of injury – it can also calm your nerves and get you ‘into the zone’. Depending on the length of the race and your own personal goal, your warm-up will vary.

For instance, warming up for a long marathon should involve little more than some light jogging and stretching – you don’t want to unnecessarily burn calories. On the other hand, for a fast 5K, it is worth doing more intensive warming up to get your body primed for the challenge ahead.

Knowing how to prepare for running in a race is essential for your body and mind – following these 7 tips means you’ll be primed and ready for whatever the race throws at you.