Monday, March 28, 2011

EricG's Running Tips #13 Plan Ahead

After many months of training, race day is upon you. What seemed like an eternity when you first decided to run that race has now been reduced to just a few short days.  Your mind starts racing as panic sets in.  What will I wear? What will I drink? How will I get there? When should I get there? There are so many things to think about and prepare for.  We all work so hard preparing our minds and body for that big day.  Don't let all that energy and training turn what should be a great stress free, fun experience into a panic filled pre-race ordeal.  Start thinking about all of the things you will need during the months prior.  I am not a list maker but it's a good idea.

As my next race is just days away and I begin my pre-race routine for this weekend, here are the things that come to mind.  I have been thinking about them all for months so I find it easier to actually put it all together now, when I need to.

The Course

How and when am I getting there? If possible I like to arrive no more than an hour before a race. It gives me plenty of time to get my gear set up where I want it and take care of any last minute items.  Anything longer and I feel like I am just standing around waiting for no reason.

What is the course like? If it’s a new race I always study the course online to understand it.  If I have been there before I will likely still refresh my memory. It's helpful to have an idea where substantial climbs are, where aid stations are located and how far apart they are.


Have a race plan.  You should know how you plan to make it to the finish line.  Things may change during the race that you can't control but if you go in without a strategy you are already out of control.


Always check the weather.  Do it frequently for the week leading up to the race to make sure you are prepared mentally and strategically for any shift.


What is available at aid stations? I like to know if I can live with what they have or do I need to bring my own.

What will my nutrition plan be? Each time I run an ultra I realize more and more how important it is to have a nutrition plan. It is so much easier to be successful if I already know what I am going to have at specific points in the race.  When I wing it I end up forgetting to take salt or keep up on my calories, or if I decide I need something I can't find what I need.


What am I going to wear?  I have my favorite pair of shoes and socks. I always have multiple pairs of both at the ready before and during the race. The rest of my clothes will likely be determined by weather. I prepare for any possible changes but will check the night before and lay out what I am wearing then, while packing additional clothes for potential changes in weather.

Be sure to have whatever gear ready and charged if needed such as water bottles or hydration packs, head lamps, hats, sunglasses, anti-chaffing creams, nipple guards (I just like saying that),  ipods, cell phones, gels, powders, salt etc...


This may seem small but If you have your bib the night before the race, put it on your shorts, shirt or wherever you like it. One less thing to do in the morning.  Oh yeah, remember pins or buy a belt.

Be sure you know where your crew/friends/family will be and let them know approximately when you will arrive.  Make sure they know what you will need so they are ready and organized when you get there.  It's good for them to be prepared in advance too.
Post Race
Be sure you have a ride home.  If possible have clean dry cloths at the finish.

Most of all, plan on having a great time and enjoy the experience you have worked so hard for.

I am sure there is much more out there I am not thinking of right now so please share what you do to make sure you are ready come race day.



  1. good luck on your upcoming race!
    you've provided a comprehensive list of preparations that can be done ahead of time - it's important to think of "what if" situations and also to determine factors that you can control (pace) vs cannot (weather) but to be prepared for as many situations as possible.
    i like the expression "fail to plan, plan to fail."
    plus, the more races you do, the easier the pre-race prep becomes.

  2. I am definitely a list-maker, so this post really hit home. Prepping for my first (and most likely my only) full marathon on April 30, and I've for sure been in a panic-filled pre-race ordeal over the last few weeks. I'm finally starting to calm down a bit, telling myself to just enjoy the experience. :) Thanks for the tips!!

  3. Thanks Cathy. I agree its good to take care of what you can control and be prepared for what you can't if possible.

    Beth if you are already thinking that far out you are way ahead of the game. Good luck with the rest of your training and yes...enjoy the whole experience. Let me know if its still your only one a week after you complete it.


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