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Cross Training For Runners

How To Prepare For Your Best Running Race

5 Mins read

Looking for tips on how to prepare for your best race? Then you have come to the right place.

Whether planning to run your first 5K or the 19th marathon, racing isn’t that overwhelming when you have the right mindset and tools.

Proper race preparation is key to ensuring you’re getting the most out of the event.

You’ll be ready to run your best race by preparing your body and mind.

How To Prepare For Your Best Running Race

In this article, I will share a few tips to help you feel confident and strong before your upcoming race.

Set A Realistic Goal

That’s where everything starts. You’ll be starting on the right foot by setting realistic expectations from the get-go.

Set clear goals on what you can—and cannot—physically do within your time frame. Stay flexible with your goals. Nothing is written in stone.

What’s more?

You should also adjust your race-time goal if you’re recovering from an unexpected injury, are sick, or the weather on event day is hotter than usual.

Additional Resource – Here’s how to create a running program

Follow A Training Plan

Training plans are the blueprint to success. They help to steadily build your experience and tolerance by running longer distances—or faster times—over a few months before the event itself.

A well-rounded running plan should involve a number of “easier” sessions each week, along with one (or two) speedwork runs and one long-distance session.

As the weeks go by, you’ll increase the distance and intensity of the runs to help your body gradually adapt to the demands of your race.

Fortunately, you can find plenty of training plans online—some of them from the Runners Blueprint blog. It’s key to follow your training program strictly if you’re serious about success. The rest is just detail.

Additional resource – The Sub 5K Training Plan

Know The Race Course

Another useful measure to help you prepare for your race is to familiarize yourself with the race route in advance. This way, you’ll cover all bases and know what to expect when the big day comes.

Most race organizers will provide a map of the racecourse in advance, including information on elevation gain and any other challenging topography.

If possible, run the race route—driving or biking it are also good options—so you can get familiar with where you can take it up a notch or slow down. Know all the road’s ups and downs, both literally and figuratively.

Don’t have the time to scope out the racecourse? Then, at the very least, study the route map online.

Additional Resource – Running while constipated.

The Few Days Before The Event

This is the most important period, and what you do during these few days can either make or break your race’s success.

Here’s what to do.

  • Avoid doing anything new. The few days before the race isn’t the best period to try new food, fueling strategies, or gear. Instead, stick with what works for you.
  • Rest up. The few days before the race, try to take as much rest as possible. Relax and leave every other life errands for after the race.
  • The night before. Instead of interesting as many carbs as possible, focus on eating a well-balanced meal that you know for sure won’t upset your stomach the next day.

Stay Positive

To run your best race, you’ll need to train your mind as hard as you do your body. After all, attitude is everything.

The key to success is maintaining a positive attitude during both training and racing. Cultivating this can help you overcome the dire situation and put you on track for success.

Remember that racing is about participating and crossing the finish line while competing against your best time.

I recommend using mantras to help you push when things get tough.

Additional Resource – Your Guide to fun runs

Have The Right Race Strategy

Lastly, your pacing strategy on race day can make a huge difference.

Overall trying to run your fastest on your first mile out is a recipe for disaster.

A common mistake many runners make is starting too fast. This makes it virtually impossible to keep the pace throughout the race, forcing the runner to either slow down or quit it altogether.

Instead, start the race slowly and increase your speed until you’re settled into your race pace goal. Then as you approach the finish line, speed up a little bit and give it everything you got.

This is what’s known as the negative split.

Additional Resource – Why is my running not improving

Get Up Early

On race day, you’ll want to wake up early, eat a proven and light breakfast, take a cool shower and make sure you got all of your race gear before time to leave.

You should have laid out your race gear the night before and gotten much asleep as possible—shoot for seven to nine hours.

Here’s how to avoid slowing down during  a race

Arrive Early

Once you’re double sure you got all of your race gear at hand, head to the race venue.

To save yourself a lot of hassle, try to make it there as early as possible, so you have plenty of time to pick up your number—unless you already have it—use the bathroom and warm up. You don’t want to make it later to the starting line. That will ruin the experience.

Additional Resource – Guide To Running Race Distances

Warm-up Properly

One of the key perks of making it to the race venue early is giving you time for a proper warm-up.

Overall, the shorter the distance, the longer the warm-up.

For example, for a 5K you might need to do an easy jog for around 15 minutes just to get the blood flowing and loosen up your muscles and joints.

Next, perform dynamic exercises to improve your flexibility, mobility, and range of motion.

Then, perform four to six strides of around 50 to 60 meters., speeding up to your race pace before slowing down and going again.

Additional Resource – Virtual Races Guide

Have A Few Mantras

When fighting off fatigue or challenging terrain, it helps to have a mantra to pull you through a tough patch.

I’d recommend having more than a few mantras on the mind.

Some of my favorites include:

  • Push
  • Keep going
  • Can’t stop
  • Won’t stop
  • Be brave
  • Be strong
  • Run strong
  • I run because I am
  • One step a time
  • God yes. God no.
  • Stand tall
  • Breathe deep
  • Glory

Sure, these may sound a bit cliché, but it won’t help to try them out, right?

Additional Resources:

How to prepare for your best race – The Conclusion

There you have it!

If you’re preparing for a race, the tips shared here should get you started on the right foot. The rest is really up to you.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, time thank you for dropping by. Good luck with your race endeavors.

Stay strong

David D.

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