Ditch the pity pose; Skip the drama
There are a ton of articles out there telling us what to do on race day: eat this, drink that, wear this, think that. But there’s not much written about what not to do when the big day rolls around. Sometimes focusing on the “no-no’s” allows the “to-do’s” to rise to the top.
So here are eight things NOT to do if you want to happily complete a goal race:
Don’t get psyched out
Instead of being afraid about what you haven’t done, concentrate on what you have done well. Remember all those miles you’ve put in. Think about your consistent long runs. Recall how you crushed those speed workouts. Think back to how you dragged yourself out of bed for early morning runs instead of sleeping in. Replace negative thoughts with positive recollections, and then let your training get you through the race.
Don’t eat fried food or chips & salsa
In the days leading up to your race, don’t give in to your taste buds or the happy-hour menu. Be sure to eat complex carbohydrates like breads and bagels, rice, pasta, potatoes and other “starchy” foods. A donut here and there won’t hurt – well, unless it is on race morning. And drink more water, sports drinks and fruit drinks than ususal – but less soda, coffee … and tequila.
Don’t give up when you get tired
Don’t get discouraged when the going gets tough. Once you commit yourself to competing, you owe it to yourself to finish—even if things don’t go your way. Use landmarks to help you: Focus on a tree in the distance and run fast to it, then run fast to that next mile marker. Catch the person in front of you, then the next one. Get over the hill and enjoy the downhill. Soon you’ll feel better and be on your way again.
Don’t give in to the “pity form”
I’m sure you’ve seen the “pity form”─head back, mouth open, arms carried high, breaths coming in short, high-pitched gasps: “Oh, the world is falling, I can’t do this.” Instead of giving in to the pity pose, simply take a deeper series of breaths, open your chest a bit, lean forward and drive your arms. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to run faster when you concentrate on keeping a strong and positive form.
Don’t start like a wild dog
Don’t let the excitement of race day take control of your. It’s easy to run too fast early in a race: you’re fresh and chipper. Instead, you need to harness your energy and use it when you need it. Be patient in the beginning, relax through the middle miles, and have fun in the final miles.
Don’t run too far
There’s no need to run farther than the measured course, so try to cut the tangents of every course. It’s legal and depending on the distance of the race, you can trim seconds or even minutes off your time.
Don’t wear new clothes on race day
Race day is not the time to bust out anything new, including shorts, tops and sports bras. Always wear what you’ve previously trained or raced in. Don’t make the mistake of toeing the line in a brand new pair of lightweight racing shoes. Wear the shoes and socks you’ve worn over your long runs. It’s hard enough to run fast, but unwanted chafing makes it that much harder. Reduce friction with Vaseline, BodyGlide or some other anti-chafe product to protect your armpit area, your toes, nipples and elsewhere.
Don’t finish like a wild dog
If you come to the end of your race and find that you have enough left for a mad dash to the finish line, perhaps don’t do it. Of course, if you’ve been racing hard all morning and a final sprint can get you your goal time or can help you out-kick your arch-rival, by all means, sprint your heart out. But if you haven’t raced 100% until now, there’s no reason to sprint like crazy, elbowing your way past other runners. Instead, skip the drama and just relax, enjoying the finishing steps while smiling for the camera.
What other “no-no’s” would you add to the list?