Race Day preparation
Hello my friends,
I hope you’re all well and that you had a nice weekend!
With less than a week left until the Amsterdam Half Marathon, I decided I would write down some ideas and suggestions when it comes to race day preparation. I know that some of these will be mainly aimed towards women, but I am sure some tips and tricks are suitable for men as well!
Just to be clear, I am not the biggest expert in the world when it comes to races, but having been fortunate enough to be mentored and inspired by incredibly fierce and badass runners such as Bangs, Rhalou, Candice, Robin and Jessie, I figured I would share some of my own race day preparations and rituals (in no particular order!):
1. RACE DAY HAIR
I have long hair which means that it flaps around quite a lot when I run plus creates some sort of shield of intense heat if I try to run with it down. It’s very easy to just forget about the hair and throw it up in a messy bun or ponytail. However, you tend to bounce a lot up and down for 13,1 miles, which is not really ideal for loose hairstyles.
My suggestion is to try out different types of braids or ways of putting your hair up in a way that makes you feel fabulous and also feels comfortable to run in. What’s almost worse than a loose ponytail that keeps sliding down is a too tight one that gives you a headache!
2. RACE DAY NAILS AND FEET
It might not seem like a big deal, but trust me, there is nothing better than treating yourself (and those feet of yours that will be doing a lot of hard work) to a nice relaxing manicure and pedicure. Whether you go to a professional or do it Orsii-budget style (ie do it yourself) doesn’t matter – it is worth doing it!
The manicure is a visual reminder that you can see when you run and it makes you look badass. The pedicure is done to make you feel badass because it makes it comfier to run. Make sure you cut those toenails (!!) and lube in those feet so they get silky smooth, you’ll thank me later!
3. RACE DAY FACE
Call me shallow if you want, but to quote Candice – “Nobody pays me to run!”, and therefore I like to look and feel my very best on race day – even if I end up looking like a hot mess by the end of it. Most people seem to forget that race day is a celebration of the incredible journey you’ve been on, and like with any party, I try to dress to impress!
So ladies, there ain’t no shame in putting on make-up if you want to! I ran my first half marathon without even smudging my black eye-liner and mascara. I didn’t have it on because I was ashamed to show my face without it, but because putting on make-up for me is showing that I’ve made an effort since I rarely use it otherwise.
The point is – do what makes you feel great, and if that happens to be you looking like a glamorous disco diva then so be it. You are running for you and nobody else, so run the way you feel most comfortable and happy with you!
4. RACE DAY OUTFIT
If there is one big thing I have learnt when it comes to race preparation, it is to have the right outfit for race day. Not everybody is a fan of lycra and I can respect that, but you can actually sweat with swagger with or without lycra – just make sure you’ve practised some long runs with your outfit AND that it can cater for all your needs.
What I mean by that is, if you’re running on a warm summers day, long leggings and a thick running jacket might not be the one… Do you need pockets? Can you take things off/put things on during the run if the weather conditions change? Don’t leave it until the last minute, but a the same time, don’t think you need to look boring and gloomy just because you’re running – quite the opposite actually!
5. THE LITTLE BAG OF MAGIC
I’ve started to run with a small bum bag that I’ve had since I was around 7 years old. I call it my little bag of magic because I put in some essential race day items that don’t weigh a lot, but that I don’t want to keep in my pockets. Some of the things I keep in there are:
– Spare contact lenses
– Sunglasses (if I’m not already wearing them)
6. RACE DAY MUSIC
As many of you know, music is my life, so of course I’m going to recommend that you sort out your rave music, oh I mean, RACE music beforehand. The way I approach this task is simple – I choose tracks that I know will get me going, music that makes me happy and keeps me entertained.
If you are struggling with race day music my top tip would be to think back on some of the best times of your life and try to create a playlist based on the music you remember from those times. Also, if you’ve done enough training, you should roughly know what pace you’ll be running with and how long it will take you to complete the race.
Try to put all the best power/happy songs roughly around the times you struggle during your long runs. So as an example, if you do 10 minute miles, it should take you a bit over 130 minutes to complete a half marathon. If you usually struggle around mile 4, 9 and 11, make sure your playlist have the best songs around minute 40, 90 and 110!
7. RACE DAY FOOD
Because I can’t really eat carbs such as bread or pasta, I’ve never done a race where I have carb loaded (ie when you eat lots and lots of carbs the day before the race so you (apparently) have lots of energy the next day). What I do know is that the food we put into our bodies really effects the way we preform on race day. Im not here to preach about what to eat, but I would highly recommend that you have some sort of routine when it comes to food & drink before the race and on race day.
Train your stomach/bowls to empty themselves BEFORE the race, don’t eat & drink too close to the start of the race, and if you run with water, try not to sip it nervously whilst you wait to get running. The last thing you want is to need the toilet just before or during the race.
I prefer to have a black coffee, protein and some greens on the side, but what ever floats your boat!
8. THE NIGHT BEFORE
Prepare your running kit and all the things you will be needing for the race the night before. Make sure you have your bib, that you know where you need to go to, how you’re going to get there, potential disruptions in your travel plans, what time you need to be there for and where you’ll be starting the race from (which area, faster people are usually by the front).
Also make sure you pack a little post-race bag with things like spare t-shirt and sweater, maybe some jogging bottoms, comfy shoes and so on. You might be very sweaty or wet or cold when you’re done, so it will be nice to have a change of clothing with you.
And last but not least – TRY TO ENJOY YOURSELF!
Running a race is not meant to be a punishment. And whilst you might be pushing yourself and your body to it’s very limits, don’t forget that it is perfectly fine to enjoy the race too, whether that is doing it at super speed, or simply running at a comfortable pace.
Have fun, pretend you are a celebrity, take in the atmosphere, enjoy the sights and don’t forget that what you are doing is pretty damn awesome!
Feel free to share some of your own handy race tips and tricks – these are just a few of my own but I’m sure there’s plenty out there to fit every need!