10 Running Tips for Peak Performance on Race Day
You’ve put the hard work into training and now it’s time for the big day. Being race-day ready is filled with variables and it’s all too easy for something small to prevent you from feeling your best. Start and end your race strong by being properly prepared. We’re sharing our top 10 running tips to help manage the preparation so you can hit your cadence and cross the finish line happy.
1. MAKE A RACE STRATEGY
Having a plan in advance will help you achieve the race results you’re hoping for. Of course, knowing how any race will go is impossible but that doesn't mean you shouldn’t plan. Whether it’s to finish within a certain time or feel energetic in the final stretch, having a strategy is important. Planning your pace and sticking to it will help avoid letting the behaviour of other runners influence you. On race day it can be easy to be caught up in the excitement, if you’re a beginner, avoid running fast at the start and instead pass those over-enthusiastic people in the second half. It will make you feel much better!
Also included in your plan should be hydration throughout the race, especially for longer distances. A general rule is that you should consume about a 150ml of water every 20 minutes. Decide on whether you’ll carry your own water or rely on hydration stops along the course. Be sure to incorporate the method you choose into your running training plan.
2. DRESS FOR THE CONDITIONS
Dress appropriately by keeping an eye on the weather forecast for the day. Refer to a runners checklist to be sure nothing is forgotten. Race day isn't for experiments so wear the gear you’ve tested during training. You don’t want to be cold and you don’t want to sweat too much – performance running gear gives you the right mix of warmth and breathability. Need some new layers? Shop ASICS running clothes well before race day to break them in.
3. EAT WELL BEFORE THE START + BRING CARBS
You can't run without fuel but eating too close to the start will only cause cramps. Try to eat a carbohydrate-rich meal no later than one hour before the race.
Carbohydrates fill glycogen stores which are the body’s most easily accessible form of energy. When these stores have been used up you tend to ”hit the wall” and performance decreases. Eating even a small amount of carbs during the race will boost your endurance as well as give your nervous system a pick-up. Try to eat 30–90g of carbs every hour depending on your bodyweight. If the race is long, lean towards the higher end. You can get on-the-run carbs from energy gels or sports drinks.
4. SHOW UP EARLY
Arriving early will allow you time to calm any jitters, get comfortable with the surroundings and be sure you know where the start and finish lines are. Give yourself at least an hour to check-in and warm up.
5. BRING SUPPORT
Having a run partner can really give you a boost as the distance grows. Invite friends or family to support you. Knowing they’re cheering you on will help you push yourself. It's also more fun when someone’s waiting at the finish line to share the moment with you.
While adrenaline can offer a helpful energy boost, being tense will make you less efficient. Try to do a check in with yourself every now and then during the race. Practice mindful running by asking: How am I breathing? How do I feel? Where am I looking? Make an effort to relax your hands and shoulders and your breathing. Incorporating these well-being techniques into your running training program in advance will help you to run easier.
7. DIVIDE THE COURSE
In a longer race, it can be useful to mentally divide up the course into manageable sections. Focus on each 5km section at a time rather than the total distance remaining. Another method is running to points within view like lamp posts or street corners to make the long distance feel less daunting and take some of the pressure off.
8. FIND ENERGY IN THE PACK
When tiredness starts to kick in it helps to use the pace of other runners around you to keep going. Focus on maintaining the distance between you and the next runner. If you can harness the extra energy, a fun tactic is to pick out someone not too far ahead of you and try to catch them. These running games can provide that extra motivation to keep you going.
9. NO MATTER IF IT'S YOUR FIRST OR 50TH RACE: ENJOY IT!
Whatever you do, don’t forget to enjoy the experience.
If your performance isn’t what you’d hoped for, allow yourself to be annoyed about it but then log it in your running training notes and quickly move on. Reviewing your notes in preparation for your next race can help you avoid a similar experience. Keep in mind everyone has bad days. The memory will fade once you have another good run! Don’t forget: Every run is a good run. Even if you may not hit the target you’d had in mind you’ll be developing stamina and strength along the way.
10. RACE RECOVERY
Even though you’ll be exhausted, fight the urge to sit down after the race. Keep the blood flowing by walking around for 10 to 15 minutes and then spend that same amount of time stretching. Stopping immediately after a long run can cause fainting or painful leg cramps.
Replenishing your body post-race with carbs and protein will get the recovery process underway. The body is most effective at replacing lost nutrition and promoting muscle repair and growth in the first 60-90 minutes after exercise. However, this will continue to occur for another 12-24 hours. Along with carbs, aim to have 20-25g of high-quality protein to assist with muscle repair.
Rehydrating is also very important! Avoid dreaded muscle cramps by drinking plenty of water after your race. Water is best, but a sports drink with electrolytes and carbohydrate may be beneficial for some people.
In preparation for your upcoming event be sure to outfit yourself with running shoes and gear that will help you get the most out of your training and support you on race day – check out our latest collection of ASICS Womens Running Shoes and Mens Running Shoes.