How to prepare for race day
Top Tips from international coach and England Athletics Road Running Manager Tom Craggs
Hear from England Athletics Road Running Manager and international running coach Tom Craggs about his top tips for achieving your best on race day.
The weeks have built up, all of the early mornings, the planning and training. Race morning will be an exciting time and for some it will be a slightly nerve-wracking but try not to panic. The work has been done and the day is about making good decisions and remaining confident. Hear from England Athletics Road Running Manager and international running coach Tom Craggs about his top tips for achieving your best on race day.
Trust your training
It is common in the last couple of weeks before race day to question whether you are ready. You might be meeting people at your running club who have done training which you haven’t but we’re all different individuals and not one of us has the perfect race day build-up.
Life will always get in the way. Niggles happen, colds happen, and you will inevitably have to miss out on some training in the block.
Look back and be proud on what you have achieved. Be positive as you need to get as many things mentally in your favour as possible.
Pre-race routine and positive mindset
Have a good breakfast but make sure it is foods you have practiced. Don’t at this stage do anything dramatically different because it’s race day. If you have a long journey to the race, think about taking some extra food to bridge that gap between breakfast and getting started.
Plan your logistics in advance, whether that be by train, car or making sure you’re not spending too much time on foot and getting fatigued. Arrive at the race 60-75 minutes before the gun is to go. That will allow you to not stress, take things slowly and use the toilet. The key before the race is to preserve as much energy as possible, to stay calm. There is going to be a buzz in the air and the music will be pumping.
You don’t need a big warm up before a half or full marathon. Just a couple of minutes of light jogging but big high intensity warm-ups are not necessary. You can ease yourself into the race in the first couple of miles.
Keep control of your pacing
If you’re in a big race like the Great North Run or the London Marathon, it can be quite a long time after the gun that you will cross the start line. In the first few kilometres it is key to remember you have had a taper and you’ve got loads of adrenaline.
The reality is you may not have covered the race distance in your training so you’re asking your body to do a little bit more than it is used to. What that means is the first few miles your body is going to want to push your forwards but you need to keep that under control and be patient.
A good way to think about race day is to start the first 5-10km a little bit slower than race pace. You may think it is better to go out fast and bank your time when you are feeling fresh, but this is not a good idea especially if you’re running a marathon. You will pay for this in the second half.
If you have a time in mind, try and keep to that pacing or a little bit slower to ensure you have some energy later in the race.
Fuelling the race
Make sure you have practiced your fuelling strategy before race day, and have these spread throughout the race.
Entering the final stages
Endurance races particularly the full marathon are going to get tough towards the end, but you have trained, prepared and that is why you have embraced the challenge. Perhaps you will dedicate the last few miles to a different special person in your life to help you through, perhaps you are really going to focus on your technique. Whatever your coping mechanism, be sure to focus on the mile you are in, and don’t focus on what is still to come.