dialing in that pre-race routine

As a runner with a certain level of anxiety, having a consistent pre race routine is key to me making it through an event of any distance. I very rarely waver from my established regimen. After all, it works, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

pre race routine

Eat a race-worthy dinner

The right dinner is essential to my pre race routine. What I choose to eat depends on how I’m feeling, the weather and upcoming race distance. For example, if all things are normal and fine and I’m taking on a 10K or shorter, I’m thrilled with a pasta meal. If it’s a certain time of month, I need to make sure I’m getting in some red meat for a push of extra iron. And if it’s particularly hot and humid, and/or I am going for a longer distance, my dinner of choice is Chinese food. Extra sodium the night before is very much needed on a day of long and hard efforts.

pre-race routine

Set out the Flat Runner

The night before a race, I like to set out my Flat Runner. This includes everything from my sports bra and sunglasses to my socks and shoes. If I already have my bib, I’ll get it pinned on my shirt in advance. I use this pre-race routine to ensure that my Garmin is charged, that I have two (hopefully matching) socks and that everything is ready and waiting to be donned in the morning. Incidentally, I’ll also pack my wallet, car keys and anything else I will need for the drive to the race site. It makes for a smoother time getting out the door.

pre race routine

Social media photo and post is absolutely optional.

Wake up and wash up!

I fall into the category of people who believe that when you’re on time, you’re late, so I get up pretty early on race morning. I like to have time to use the restroom, get dressed, and …. this is going to be weird… take a shower. Yes, it is absolutely bizarre to bathe before going to get sweaty, but I feel better about the day when I do, so part of the pre-race routine it remains.

pre race routine

Fuel up.

As you may have figured out, I’m an early trainer. I literally roll out of bed and hit the road running. This means I rarely eat or drink before my miles. However, when a race is involved, I usually don’t run until an hour or two after I get up, so fuel is critical. I will typically stick to something plain and easy, like a bagel (not toasted with nothing on it) and some kind of electrolyte drink (like Nuun).

You all know I love my iced coffee, but that’s a treat I will save until post-race. It’s just too risky to indulge before a run.

Arrive early to get settled.

If we are being completely honest, I don’t hate being one of the first people on site. I have had way too many close calls with distant parking and long lines at packet pickup or the portapotties, and I’m just not interested in living on the edge right before a race. When I’m early, I can walk or jog out my nerves, use the facilities at my leisure, get my bib and shirt if I still need to, and generally just breathe. A calm Jenn is a better runner and I do everything I can to bring some chill to the starting line. This is also a great time to mentally review my race day goals.

pre race routine

And when all that is done, it’s time to race!

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What is your pre-race routine?

Coffee before or after?

Do you shower before a race?

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13 Responses to dialing in that pre-race routine

  1. My routine is pretty similar! Except if it’s a winter race, I don’t want to be there too early. Brrrr!
    Sometimes that can’t be avoided though… like the time my pre race bagel froze before I got to eat it. Thanks NYC half weather. Lol!
    Stacie Seidman recently posted…What’s up WednesdayMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      OMG! That’s crazy about your bagel!

      I will stay in my car if it’s too cold (or too hot), but I guess in NYC, it’s more public transportation than personal vehicles. Makes it harder, for sure.

  2. I like to give myself some extra time on race morning too. I never sleep well the night before anyway. Have not tried the shower thing
    Deborah Brooks recently posted…Mix Up Summer Running with Bike Run BricksMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Me, either. I always worry I am going to oversleep. Like I told Rachel, I really like to shave before I go out for the day. It’s a bizarre thing with me. I used to shower before training runs, too!

  3. Rachel says:

    I know so many people who shower before a race. I don’t get it but I also don’t judge. You do you! And great tips. 🙂

    • runswithpugs says:

      The truth is, I really like to shave before I go outside for the day, especially since I’m usually in shorts. I don’t feel “ready” unless I handle that bit of business.

  4. Kim G says:

    Sometimes I have thought about taking a shower before a race so that I feel more awake but I haven’t tried it yet. Maybe it’s time to change that!

  5. Esther says:

    I actually like to shower before a race or any sweaty event…haha
    I also like to arrive early, especially when I have NO idea where I am going.
    I have been known in the past to drive to the location beforehand so I am not confused on the day of the race!
    Great tips on what to eat the night before.

  6. Cari says:

    I’m with you on no iced coffee before a race. I wish I could sometimes – would make me less crabby on Saturday long runs but doesn’t work for me.
    I rent so we don’t pay the water bill directly – I am all the showers, but never before a run because I hate wrestling into my sports bra.
    And yep, often the first one there if it’s anything but Central Park which I have down a tee
    Cari recently posted…Super busy, wonderful weekMy Profile

  7. Another friend of mine would shower before a race and I could never understand why. But hey, whatever works for you and makes you feel good before starting a race, right?
    Zenaida Arroyo recently posted…Random Thoughts Thursday 86My Profile

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