Tips for running the perfect race

Race routines for the perfect race

Race season is upon us and, once again, I’ve signed up for way too many races this year. It’s only April and I have already done my first 3 races of 2019 over 3 consecutive weekends. You can read about my race reports (ATB30K, Spring Run-Off 8k, and NYC Shape Half) over on my blog.

Each time I do a race, I try to learn from it so I can be more prepared for the next race. Here’s what I’ve learned over the past couple of years. I hope this will be helpful! Leave a comment if you have any other tips!

A few days before your race:

  • Start carbo loading but don’t go overboard;
  • Drink lots of water;
  • Try to get lots of rest;
  • Try to be ‘regular’ . . .you know . . . with No. 2;
  • Figure out how and when to get to the start line. Be aware of road closures, subway/bus operating times, parking, etc.;
  • Check the weather forecast and decide what you will wear for the race. (You may want some Monkey Gear for this) Do laundry if it’s dirty!

The day before:

  • Go for a short (~5k) shakeout run;
  • Pick up race kit or do it earlier if possible;
  • Have a final high-carb meal at lunch (e.g. pasta) but stay away from anything too creamy, buttery, greasy, or high in fibre;
  • Have a light dinner;
  • Charge your watch and phone;
  • Check weather forecast again and collect race day outfit, gear, and fuel;
  • Post a #flatrunner on IG ?;
  • Make Nuun and put the bottles in the fridge;
  • Pack your post-race bag;
  • Clip toe nails;
  • Set one or more alarms;
  • Try to sleep (I usually can’t).

The morning of:

  • Don’t try anything new;
  • Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up;
  • Eat a pre-race breakfast (usually a PB&J sandwich for me) about 2-3 hours before the race;
  • TMI: try to ‘go’ at home, Vaseline wherever chaffing may occur, Band-Aid toes as needed to prevent blisters, wear a pad in case of bladder leaks!
  • Pin the race bib on (and repin it four times to make sure it sits just right!)
  • Check shoe laces but don’t tie them too tight;
  • Go to the bathroom again before heading out of the house.

Just before the race:

  • Check-in your post-race bag;
  • Try to stay warm. Use a garbage bag or a throw away shirt, if needed;
  • Go to the bathroom again, even if it’s a port-a-potty;
  • If possible, do a short (1 km) warm-up before going into the corral.

During the race:

  • Start in the right corral. Follow a pace bunny if there is one;
  • As you cross the start line, start your Garmin or Strava;
  • Try not to start too fast. I get claustrophobic easily so I always want to weave in and out at the start of the race to get through the crowds. It’s not good but I can’t help it;
  • Stay hydrated with sips of water or whatever is offered as long as you have trained with it. No Gatorade for me! When you get a cup from the aid station, pinch it so you make a little funnel for the liquid to go into your mouth;
  • If it’s hot, take an extra cup of water and pour it over your head or down your back;
  • Fuel every 45-60 minutes. Gels don’t agree with my stomach so I take Endurance Tap, GU chews, or Sesame Snaps;
  • Trust your training;
  • Look around, read the funny signs, high five the kids, strike-a-pose for the photographers, say thank you to the volunteers and cheer squads;
  • Celebrate the journey and enjoy the race!


  • Strike-a-pose and as soon as you cross the finish line, stop your Garmin or Strava;
  • Drink whatever is offered (water, juice, chocolate milk, etc.);
  • Eat whatever is offered (ideally some protein within first 30 minutes);
  • Change into a dry outfit including socks and shoes as soon as possible;
  • Take all the selfies with your new bling!

At home:

  • Take a shower/bath;
  • Foam roll;
  • Take a nap.

The evening of:

  • Do a bit of walking;
  • Drink lots of water;
  • Post those selfies on Instagram ?.

The day after:

  • Drink lots of water;
  • Foam roll;
  • Do a bit of walking/jogging;
  • Hang up your new bling;
  • Start thinking about your next race!
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