5 Must-dos the Night Before a Race
There is nothing quite like the feeling of nervous excitement the night before a race. You’re confident and ready to conquer one second, and about ready to throw up from nerves the next. No matter how many races you’ve run, there’s always some degree of this feeling as the hours tick by. While you can’t control what race day will bring, there are things you can do the night before to set yourself up for success. Here are my 5 must-dos!
Lay Everything Out
Whether you’re at home or in a hotel, gather every piece of gear you’ll need for your run. This goes from clothes, to shoes, to accessories like arm warmers and hats. Not only will you save time in the morning not hunting for your socks, you’ll save a lot of stress by having thought everything out without the pressure of time. Charge your watch and your phone overnight so you don’t wake up to a low battery signal.
Check the weather (although I cannot imagine you won’t!) for the hour-by-hour so you know the temperature getting to the race and waiting in the corral.
For endurance races you should have a nutritional strategy – what electrolyte cocktail works for your body, and when and how many you’ll need – so those items can be set out as well.
Hydrate and Eat What you Know
This is not a night for foodie adventures. You should be drinking water throughout the day, and opt for aqua over the fancy cocktail. Stick with foods you eat regularly and you know settle well. While you don’t have to get the pasta, do opt for meals a bit higher in carbs and protein, while avoiding those high in unhealthy fats. Not only will you sleep better with an easily digestible meal, your race day morning will not be spent in the bathroom line.
Have a Plan
Race day is not a day to wing it! Work your timeframe backwards to figure out when you need to set your alarm. Think about when you want to arrive at the start, factor in travel, getting dressed, eating, pre-race warmup routine, and pad that a bit. Know what route you’ll take to the start and make sure there are no road closures due to the race itself.
If you have spectators, communicate with them to ensure you see each other. Send a photo of your race day outfit so they know what to look for, and give them an idea of your pace so they can calculate when to be looking for you. For more spectator tips, check out this post!
You will be all consumed with the actual race, so making decisions that morning will be hard. The more you can have already thought out and planned for, the easier your day will go and the less stress you’ll have. It’s also a great idea to have a plan for after your race. You don’t need the entire day mapped out, but coordinating with your spectators – figuring out where to meet and when – and knowing how you’re going to get home (or to brunch!) is helpful when your brain isn’t working at 100%. Trust me, it took me far too long to figure out which alphabetical line I needed to be in to collect my things from gear check after my first marathon!
Go to Bed
True, you probably won’t sleep great the night before your race. It can be hard to fall asleep, and you’ll likely wake up 50 times before your alarm goes off to check the time. Go to bed early anyway, rest your body and rest your mind. You don’t want to be on your feet too long or too late (hope you didn’t stay too long at the expo!) so turn down plans with your friends – even if they’re racing, too! – and shut the TV down before starting a new season on Netflix.
Find Your Zen
This is different for everyone. Maybe you enjoy a long hot bath, or reading in bed, putting on music and writing, or meditating. Do whatever calms you when you feel stressed. The more calm of an environment you can create, the less energy you will waste and the easier it will be to fall asleep.
This anxious feeling will disappear the second you cross the start line, I promise! Know that everyone feels this way, and try to enjoy the special energy that only this night holds.
What is your pre-race night routine?
What calms your nerves before the big day?