Wellness

The essential pre-race day checklist

November 15, 2021
Photo of a young woman stretching out after her outdoors workout

After preparing for months, the race is finally here. You've put in the training time, but you're not done yet! Use this checklist to make sure you wake up rested, fueled and prepared for the big day. 

"Your pre-race day routine is an important component of a sound race strategy. Rest, healthy food, hydration and planning are essential ingredients that get your body and your mind ready for the race," says Hannah Hill, Exercise Specialist at Riverside Wellness & Fitness Center.

Pencil in your pick up 

You'll need to make time to check in and pick up your race number (also called a bib) in the days before the race. It's best not to leave this until the last minute because it may interfere with your pre-race day plan, like eating a balanced dinner and getting plenty of sleep. If you spend the night of the race in your car or in line waiting to pick things up, you may be rushed.

Hydrate all-day 

Drink plenty of fluids the day before your race. About 8-12 cups of caffeine-free, unsweetened beverages like water or herbal tea. Make sure you cut off fluids a few hours before bed so you can sleep uninterrupted. Skip caffeine after noon the day before and alcohol entirely. 

Balance your meals throughout the day 

No need to carb load; your body has been busy building up your fuel stores throughout your training. Instead, balance meals using the plate method – fill up half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables, one quarter with other complex carbohydrates like wild rice and sweet potatoes and leave the remaining quarter for protein like fish or tofu. Skip the fatty or fried meats to avoid digestive troubles that night or on race day. 

The night before your race is not the time to experiment with new foods or supplements. It's best to mimic what you've done during training to avoid any surprises.

Prep your gear and plan route

Take some time to charge up any electronics, lay out your gear and attach your number to your outer layer. If you're bringing gels or energy chews, tuck them into the right pockets so they're ready to go. The less you have to do in the morning, the better.

Double-check the race information to plan your wake-up and departure time. Make sure to review road closures as you plan your route to the starting line. Roads close a few hours before race time for the safety of race staff, runners and spectators, so plan accordingly. To limit pre-race jitters, set a second alarm.

Rest your body and mind

A good night's sleep is an essential ingredient to a good run. Set the stage by powering down electronics, putting on comfortable pajamas and making sure your room is cool and dark. If you're feeling anxious, practice deep breathing or a few minutes of meditation to calm your mind. 

Enjoy the race

With training under your belt and pre-race day prep in order, race day will be a breeze. Skip a heavy breakfast and opt for lower fiber fuel options like a banana with peanut butter or yogurt with berries. Follow the plan you set up and arrive at the starting line feeling calm and prepared – you got this!

If you need support to maximize your running performance, prevent or recover from athletic injuries, visit  Riverside Sports Medicine.

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