How to prepare for race day

The buildup

For the week before race day, rest your body! This means no aggressive runs, no excess mileage, and no speed work, no kick boxing, no body pump, no Boot Camp.

Rest, rest, and then rest some more. Kick your feet up when you can. Take a nap if given the opportunity.

Keep a bottle of water in your hand, in your car, on your desk all day. Eat well: fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats, and healthy carbs.

Do self massage, foam roll, use the addaday, or try Trigger Point tools to work the kinks out of your muscles. If you feel sluggish or antsy, try swimming, biking, yoga, or a brisk walk.

Don’t get a pedicure right before your race! You don’t want to shave off those hard-earned calluses right now. (plan for one after the race)

This is the week of "carb loading": The idea is to store good carbs to convert into energy. Don’t overload, just increase the ratio of carbs to proteins. Don’t try eating crazy new foods. If you’re uncertain, stick to bland foods such a potatoes, pasta and whole wheat breads.


The day before the race

Lay out race day apparel. From head to toe, think through everything you need for race day. Check on sunscreen, hat, energy gels or shots, Body Glide, water belt, ID, a bit of cash, hotel key.

Pack dry clothes and flip flops or a change of shoes in your gear check bag. You want to be comfortable enough that you can linger and cheer others on.

Sleep and hydration are your top priorities. You may be too excited to sleep well the night before, so make sure you get great sleep two nights before your race.

Race day

Don’t overdress. Some races have donation stops around mile 2 where you can shed a long sleeve. Just don’t drop your Fleet Feet Sports shirt—we want you to wear those with pride many runs from now!

While you’re running: Smile! You want to look good in race photos.

Don’t overdo it in the beginning; you want to finish strong. Pacing goals should be even. Don’t let the race excitement push you ahead of your correct pace.

Soak in the sights! Try not to focus on getting this over with; savor the event!

Take your nutrition as you’ve done through training. A typical 10K runner will want Gu/some fuel between miles 3 and 4. A typical half-marathoner will take Gu around miles 5 and 9. A typical marathoner every 3 to 4 miles. Gu takes 45 minutes or more to be absorbed so you want to think ahead.

Get water at every station. Slow down, grab, move aside, and go. Check before you toss so you don’t splash other runners. And thank the volunteers helping out.

Run/walkers: Be aware of runners around you when you take your walk breaks. Try not to stop right in front of someone.

Don’t try new stuff today. Stick with what’s familiar to your body.

At the finish line: Smile, and know you are fabulous! Right away get water or a sports drink to consume as your wind your way through the finishing area.

Be sure to eat a combination of carbs and protein within an hour of finishing. You will have burned up a lot of calories and your body will be craving fuel.

To ease sore muscles, plan to take an ice bath within a few hours of the finish. Another great option for flushing the lactic acid out of your legs is to get in a pool and do easy laps for 20 minutes. We also like an Epsom salt bath.

And, please oh please, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishment! We are proud of you!

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