No matter how prepared you feel, race day can still throw some curveballs our way, from start line nerves to hitting the wall. We find out some top tips on enjoying every second
There’s nothing worse than having a race in the diary for months, doing all the training, then not enjoying the day itself. It could be nerves getting the better of us, or the race not going as we planned.
We chat to Steve Paterson, Product Trainer at Runners Need, to find out his tips for feeling good from waking up to the finish line – whatever happens.
“Race day can be incredibly emotional for runners, especially when you take into consideration the past year we’ve had with cancelled and postponed events,” he says. “When you find yourself on the start line it is important to remain calm and remember all the work you’ve done to get you to this point.” Read on for more tips from Steve.
Soak in the atmosphere
Big race events can sometimes feel like a mini festival or event. Often there are musicians and drummers around the course, not to mention swarms of supporters, which can be hugely motivating. They can help to take your mind off things if you’re nervous, or starting to tire. As you’re making your way to the finish line, take off those headphones and enjoy those fun vibes.
Remember why you entered the race
Take a moment before the race starts to remind yourself of your reasoning for doing the race. Are you raising money for charity? Or perhaps you wanted to improve your fitness levels and see what your body is capable of? It’ll give you focus and then will be easy to remember if things get tough during the race.
Write your name on your race number or t-shirt
Nothing gives you a motivational boost like hearing strangers in the crowd cheering you on during the race. Writing your name somewhere where it is visible for spectators to see will be sure to get them offering you words of encouragement. Hearing your name being shouted and knowing you’ve got their support can be hugely uplifting and can help you to pick yourself back up if negative thoughts or feelings of doubt start creeping in.
Visualise the finish line
Imagine yourself at the finish line and how you’ll feel when you get there. Remember that you’ve done all the hard work, with months of training and there’s not long left to go until you’ve completed your challenge. It can also be a good idea to give yourself something to look forward to at the end too, whether it be a celebratory drink down the pub or a well-earned meal with friends and family. Knowing you’ve got something exciting to get to will definitely help spur you on.
Stick to your pacing strategy
It’s very easy to get carried away with the emotion of the day and be impacted by the other runners around you, but it is so important that you stick to how you’ve been training. One of the most common mistakes people make is starting off too quickly. If you get to the last few miles in your race and you’re feeling strong and confident, then push yourself – but if you push hard too early then you may experience fatigue and heavy legs, which will result in slowing in pace and may force you to adjust your finishing time. Finding a pace maker along the course to stick to can also help with this and keep you going if your goal is to complete your run in a certain time.
Put together a powerful playlist
If you’re taking part in an event which allows you to listen to your own music, it’s a good idea to have a motivational playlist ready to go full of your favourite upbeat songs to switch on when you’re needing an extra push. If they are up-tempo, they can often help you when you need to pick up the pace or may simply offer you words of encouragement. Some people sometimes like to get their friends and family to record messages which they slot in between tracks which can also help to inspire.
If you’re running alone it can often help to find a fellow runner to team up with on part of the course. If they’re running at the same pace and seem happy to, why not strike up conversation? You can help to encourage each other around the course, and you may have made a new running friend in the process too.