1. Don’t sleep in. Allow plenty of time for a small meal in advance of the race (see “nutrition before and after” blog) and for your extra bathroom visits you may have due to extra hydration or nerves. Certainly allow for extra time for the LINES that may exist for the toilets right before the race.
2. Review your mental game. See the “Winning the Mental Games” blog for ideas on getting through the mental challenges of running. Visualize yourself staying strong to the end and having a successful race. How much of your strength and endurance is in your mind?
3. Double knot your shoes for convenience and safety. You won’t want to stop during the race when the laces come undone.
4. Get in a proper warm-up first. Beginning runners can just walk for a warm-up and then ease into the run at race time. Intermediates with a time goal who are going to start right out at that race pace need to be jogging a little a few minutes before you line up. Getting the muscles warmed up will also give you a chance to stretch before the race while you’re in line to go.
5. Line up with those who you believe are about at your level at the start. Don’t line up in the first half unless you really expect to be in the first half of the finishers. Allow plenty of space for the elite athletes to have their top spots, for courtesy and for safety. Many races will have pace markers to help you line up, but when this doesn’t exist you can ask those around you their mile pace to get an idea of where you should be.
6. Don’t start out too fast. This can be a challenge as you get caught up in the excitement of the starting line push. Know your pace and if you are questioning if you can go harder tell yourself that you can always speed up after you hear the first split. (Many races will provide your time at the mile marker.)
7. Three Quick Steps! 1 2 3! This is my favorite racing tip from my cross-country days. Anytime you are coming off the top of a hill or have just rounded a corner it’s really easy to allow your pace to slip instead of picking back up to the pace you were at just seconds before. Anytime you have slowed, try telling yourself to just take 3 quick steps and see if you don’t naturally fall into that new pace. We would count “1 2 3” in our heads or chant a key word out loud such as “pow pow pow” as we cheered each other on.
8. Bring your support team! You will love to see a familiar face cheering along the route. When you are finished, stay along the course to cheer your fellow MOTR.
9. Have fun! Relax into your stride and breathe evenly.
10. Record your results online! You can note the distance, time, weather, and even rate the workout and include notes about it in your personal account on the MOTR website or using the new Android or iPhone apps.