7 Things I Do Before Every Race

Hello from Mexico! I’m popping in with some race day thoughts… I’ll share my 5k experience on Thursday!

I remember how clueless I was at my first half marathon.  I think I ate a bagel before hand, but that was about the extent of my nutrition knowledge.  I had no fuel with me for the run, no watch, no idea what pace I was running or should be running… and you know what? It actually worked out okay.

But these days I have a plan, and frankly, I need that system because without it I’d be a mess of stress.  What do you do before a race? These are 7 things I do every time:


  1. Lay out my clothes the night before PLUS throw away clothes and layers to stay warm… I hate being cold! I will gladly over dress up front if it means I’m comfortable before and after running.
  2. Carb up: I love the saying, “train low, race high” – I don’t usually overdo the carbs during training or on training runs but I am careful to increase them the last few days before a run and always have my bagel or toast with pb and banana race morning
  3. Eat two hours + before a race even if it means setting my alarm to do so: I know my body needs at least two hours to digest breakfast before a race, so even if it’s a local race that I could roll out of bed for, I’m careful to get up early enough to eat in advance for a more comfortable race experience!
  4. Have a race plan: This can be as simple as knowing the appropriate range of paces I should be able to hit, or as complex as factoring in hills, terrain and mile splits.  I like to look at the course map, elevation and also check my recent race times in a calculator like McMillian’s to make sure I know about where my race equivalent pace should be… the big piece here is to avoid starting too fast, and it’s helpful to know what “too fast” would look like
  5. Do a warm up: I remember mocking people who were running before races at the first few halfs I did… don’t they know we’re about to run 13 miles? Why are they wasting their energy? Little did I know how much my body needs that warm up time too when I have a goal pace in mind! The general rule of thumb is the shorter the race, the longer the warm up.  So for the 5k, I do two miles, the half is often only a mile warm up, and I try to jog around a tiny bit before the full.
  6. Have a mantra or two in mind: I often have a few go to statements, like “you’re strong, you’ve got this” but recently I think I’ve overdone them and my brain knows I’m trying to trick myself and isn’t listening or responding as well to the positive messages.  Instead, lately I’ve been switching to mental tricks like rubberbanding myself (invisibly) to someone ahead of me and reeling them in.
  7. Don’t stress the sleep! Since learning that it’s actually two nights before a race that matters more, I stress less.  I try to sleep well throughout the week and then if I toss and turn before a race, I know I’ll be fine.  Of course, since taking the pressure off to sleep well I now typically have no issues sleeping before a race.

What about you? What do you ALWAYS do before a race?

Do you have a set pre-race meal that you don’t stray away from?

I am linking up with SuzRachel, Lora, and Debbie for Running Coaches CornerPatty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Nicole, Annmarie, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.


12 thoughts on “7 Things I Do Before Every Race

  1. I enjoyed reading this. I always like to see what other people do in the mornings before their races. I honestly wish I was more organized and laid out my stuff beforehand.

  2. Yep – I do ALL of those things to and sometimes I have to force myself to eat because of nerves or just that it’s too early, but I know I have to have the carbs and protein to endure 😊
    Have the best time in Mexico!!
    Allie recently posted..Phillies 5k (18:32)My Profile

  3. I have to force myself to eat the morning of a race because nerves always have me forgetting that I’m actually hungry!!

  4. I just found your blog, and I’m so excited to scour it for tips! I’m a runner/wanna-be(?) in northern NY state, and I’m training for Chicago this year 🙂 I’ve definitely carbed up for races during my professional swimming years, so I guess it would be smart to do so for running, too! Do you have a preferred hydration belt?

    • Hi Melissa,

      That’s so exciting! You are more than a wanna be if you are training for a marathon! Congrats!

      I’ve used a variety of things- I liked the Nathan belt. Lately I’ve been using course water and just using a spibelt for gels/chews or lots of pockets. Experiment on your longer runs and decide what you prefer. And definitely let me know if you have other questions that I can help with!
      Laura recently posted..7 Things I Do Before Every RaceMy Profile

    • Hey Sue! Great question… I’m not crazy about tracking but when I do track, my carbs range from 170-270, I don’t go below 150 grams in a day, so really not super low just a bit more balanced than the typical runner – I am for close to 45/30/25 carb, protein, fat… but again, I’m not crazy about it and only track about once or twice a week. Mostly I think it’s the train low on long runs and workouts that makes the difference… running fasted on short runs and doing a few long runs without fuel that made a big difference for me. Hope that helps!

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