Race day is right around the corner for me, and for the past few days I’m been trying to make sure that I have all of my ducks in a row, if you will.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like I always forget something on race day.
Thankfully, it’s seldom something substantial but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less frustrating. Race day is stressful enough on its own, without you making it any worse by forgetting something.
5 Things to Remember on Race Day
- Give Yourself Enough Time: I’m not a big fan of getting to the start of the race 2-3 hours before the gun goes off. I really don’t like sitting around waiting for the race to start and/or standing in line for the porta potty. That said, don’t push your luck. If you’re driving to the start of the race, remember that traffic is going to be a mess and roads will likely be closed. You’re also likely to be arriving before the sun comes up, so if you aren’t familiar with the area and it’s dark it is much easier to miss a turn and wind up lost.
- Stick with What You Know: You know where I stand when it comes to rules of thumb, and Lord knows I’m not above pushing back against the man from time to time. That said, trying something completely new on race day is rarely a good idea. I’m all for experimenting with different fueling strategies, paces, run/walk intervals, etc, but save the bulk of your experimentation for your training runs. On race day, go with what you know has worked for you in the past.
- Know Your Hot Spots: The only thing more uncomfortable than chafing during a race is the sting of the shower on your chafed skin after the race. You know your hot spots when it comes to chafing, so address them! Fellas, put those band aids on your nipples! Don’t break out a new pair of shoes or an untested piece of clothing because you could end up with a rub somewhere that you’ve never had before. If you need band aids/blister pads/ skin lube, get them in place before you start sweating/the damage is already done.
- Don’t Aim for Perfection: Why do we even worry about running a perfect race? Perfect races don’t happen. Sorry if I’m bursting your bubble, but something is going to go wrong on race day. If you can accept that at the start of the race, you’ll be less upset when you have to retie your shoe, when you choke on a cup of water, or when something else unexpected goes awry. Take a deep breath, accept whatever happened, and keep going.
- Have Fun: Remember, running is supposed to be fun! Whether or not you hit your goal time for the race, you can still have fun if you let yourself. Stop for a selfie is you see something cool. Strike up a chat with a fellow runner. Sing along to your music. Just remember that you paid good money to take part in this race, so you might as well try to enjoy yourself before, during, and after.
The One Thing Every Runner MUST Do on Race Day
Never pass up a chance to thank a volunteer.
I don’t care what reason/excuse you can cook up in your mind, if you ignore a volunteer you are being a dick.
Point blank, if there weren’t volunteers, there wouldn’t be races. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a local 5k or the Boston Marathon, races would not happen if there weren’t volunteers.
So acknowledge them. Smile at them. Clap for them. Thank them, even if you don’t want the water or gu or whatever they are offering to you.
And after the water station, try to get your water cup in the trash.
Seriously, runners are generally pretty good people but I’ve seen a lot of dick-ish behavior directed toward race volunteers from my running brethren and sistren.
Those people are volunteering their time to support us, not to be looked down upon and expected to serve us.
If you can’t thank a volunteer, don’t bother showing up on race day.
What lessons have you learned the hard way on race day in your past?
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