10 MISTAKES MADE ON RACE DAY
Let’s be honest with ourselves – we’ve all made a mistake on race day at least once! I can put my hand up and say I have definitely made a few of these mistakes on race day (I include some of my stories below).
Just to note – it’s okay to make mistakes, this is just here to try and give you some tips to help you on your race day. We’ve experienced it so you don’t have to.
1. Pre-race dinner
You’ve all heard about carb loading right? Yes carb loading is great to prepare your body, replenish your glycogen stores and help improve your performance – but not if it’s only done the night before. Overeating could lead to you feeling sluggish or reduce your ability to sleep as your body is working on trying to digest the meal.
Sometimes it’s too much food or too much fat, and your body can’t process it. However, reducing food that have caffeine, sugar, dairy, wheat, gluten, extra fats or fried foods several days prior to the race can really help make sure that your body & stomach feels 100% on race day.
2. Wearing a new pair of running shoes
I get it, we all get a fancy pair of running shoes that we would like to use for our runs. Wearing new shoes for your first race is a bad mistake. You want to make sure that you have worn them in, run a good few miles in them and reduce the chance of getting blisters. The brand new shoes are great for photos, but not worth damaging your poor feet over.
3. Wearing anything new
If you’ve recently got a new pair of shorts, a new running top or even new underwear – just like the shoes, try and wear them first. I made the mistake and would definitely advise against it. I got a new pair of ‘runderwear’ for Christmas and thought it would be fine to run my next half marathon in them without any use – rookie mistake. The chafe was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced (beautiful I know), and turns out, they just weren’t right for me. Make sure your outfit is the right fit, you’ve worn it before and that you will be comfortable.
4. Trying out a new food routine/gel
It is not worth having stomach issues on race day, no matter how good that Pinterest recipe looks. That new gel you’ve never tried that has extra caffeine in? Yeah, don’t make this mistake if you don’t want to be running to the loo during your race. I was doing a race once and my other half gave me some of his drink whilst he was spectating, little did I know it was a hydration tablet with caffeine in, I don’t have anything with caffeine in (just a health thing) – I then had stomach issues for the next 3 weeks after the race. Use your training programme as the time to try out new foods and gels, that way you know exactly what works for your stomach and what helps you have a successful race.
5. Following the person in front of you
I know someone who just followed the person in front of them during a race – it was a triathlon and they were on their bike lap. They followed the person in front of them and then continued for another 5 miles on the wrong route. Make sure to keep an eye out for the signs, marshals and any spectators – they will point you on the right route. Looking up the race route online or before you start is always great, as it gives you a mental picture of where you’re meant to be going and less chance for a mistake.
6. Taking any of the snacks spectators are giving out
I’ve made this mistake several times and although I didn’t experience any ending my run problems, I did have some issues.
I love when spectators get involved in races, the more cheers, the better the experience when they’re pushing you to carry on. Sometimes they love to give out their own snacks, to help out. A few examples; pink wafer biscuits – about 1 mile from water station, my mouth was so dry and it was mile 11 of the half marathon. I also once tried a jelly ‘thing’ not sure how to describe it – again, it was stuck in my mouth for ages and the water station wasn’t for another few miles, I was chewing for a long time before I managed to get rid of it.
7. Not going to the toilet before the event
I have been to several events where I thought it was just a nervous wee and ignored it – I then spent the whole race needing to go and when I finished, had to run to the loo to empty the bladder. Make sure you go before you leave your house/accommodation. Make sure you go when you arrive. Make sure you go before your race with plenty of time that you don’t get stuck in the massive toilet queue.
8. Get your chafe cream out
As you’ve read above, chafing sucks. That post run shower or bath will really show you the areas in which you get chafe. Make sure you have packed your chafe cream (check out this race packing list for ideas), even pack extra to make sure you don’t suffer with it. Apply before you leave your house and apply just before you start your race, it means you’ve done everything you can to reduce that post run burn.
9. Hydration is key
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Performance declines with dehydration and keeping your electrolytes balanced is important. Staying well hydrated is key for keeping your body functioning properly. Drinking to thirst is a good technique to use, or setting a rule for when you need to drink during your run (i.e. every 20 minutes). Even when it is cold, you need to make sure you are drinking and especially when it is hot, you need to take on water.
Don’t drink too much water though, if you feel full, definitely reduce the amount you are drinking. If you feel nauseous or bloated, reduce the amount of you are drinking. Essentially, drink small sips, don’t drink as much as possible, be guided by your thirst.
I like to drink an electrolyte tablet in my water the night before an event. It just makes sure that my stores have been replenished and my muscles feel hydrated.
10. Not enjoying it
Don’t become a slave to the clock or to your mileage. Stop comparing yourself to the others. It is okay to be nervous before the race, don’t let this get in the way of your enjoyment.
It may not be a PB or you haven’t hit your target time – but you have put the hard work in. You should have fun, always take something positive away from the experience. Learn from it and have a great time.
Let me know your thoughts, pop me a message on Instagram or on here if you have made any other mistakes on race day!