Seeing that I am running a 5k tomorrow, I thought I’d give some pointers on what to do the day before a 5k race. The week leading up to a race can be somewhat stressful. The day before a race can be even worse. Don’t stress yourself out. Follow this checklist to make sure that you’re prepared to run your race. 5ks should be fun, and you owe it to yourself to get out there and enjoy it.
1. Relax – First and foremost, you should allow yourself to rest and relax the day before your 5k. It can sometimes feel as though you have a million things you need to do to get prepared. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to take it easy. Find a good book and a shade tree, watch a calming movie, go get a massage, or take your dog for a peaceful stroll. Just don’t over exert yourself; save that precious energy for tomorrow’s race.
2. Pick Up your Race Bib and Packet – Believe it or not, some people get lost in the excitement so much that they actually forget to do this. Most races will have packet pickup times the day before the race. Even bigger races (with more participants) will have multiple days to pick up packets. Waiting till race day to get your packet can be troublesome; you may encounter long lines and barely make it to the starting line in time to turn your iPod on. Also, you will want to allow yourself time to use the bathroom before heading to the start/finish.
3. Charge Up your Devices – Speaking of iPods, you will want to make sure that yours is charged. Most people will remember to charge their smartphones, but many forget about their digital cameras and MP3 players. Also, if you track your activities with a GPS watch, you will want to be sure that it’s juiced up as well.
4. Don’t Run – Actually, let me clarify: Do run, if you feel that you are able to without overdoing it. While it is important to keep the legs loosened up, you can sometimes do more harm than good from running the day before your race. I wouldn’t suggest going out the day before a 5k and trying to beat your personal best time. Keep it nice and easy, with a pace much slower than you are used to. Most people actually find it hard to run slower than normal. Do what feels comfortable for you and you should be okay.
5. Check the Weather – Do you know whether it will be sunny and 90 degrees or rainy and 50 degrees? If you don’t know the weather, you don’t know what to wear. I have planned poorly for races before and I ended up running 26.2 miles in freezing rain when I assumed that it would be sunny and 60 degrees – let’s just say that a t-shirt and shorts didn’t suffice. Never assume that the weather will be like it has been. I love weather.combecause I feel that they are much more reliable than my local news. You can narrow it down to the exact time the race will begin. This gives you a good estimate of what to expect. You should then be able to dress accordingly.
6. Visit the Webpage of Your 5k Race – Head over to the website of your race where they will give you a full rundown of the race day logistics. It’s good to double check your start time and location. Some races will also send out emails to keep you informed of what’s going on. Make sure that you are signed up to receive such notifications.
7. Eat & Drink Lightly – For the most part, I would suggest eating like you normally would. We need not change our diets the day before a race unless it’s to cut back a tad. Running a 5k is not quite like running a half or full marathon where you need plenty of carbs, healthy fat, and electrolytes. You should not be switching up what you eat the day before, or the day of, your 5k. Again, take it easy; do like you normally do. You should have tested out energy gels weeks before your race to be sure that your body can handle them. Eating things unfamiliar to your body may result in an upset stomach or worse.
While hydrating is important, don’t overdo it. You know why you see so many people lined up at the port-a-potties on race day? Because, they stayed up all night hydrating. Getting plenty of water does not mean drinking until your stomach hurts. Get your regular 6 – 8 glasses of water in for the day and you should be good. Besides, over urinating is the fastest way to lose vital nutrients.
8. Plan for Travel – For some races, we will need to travel a bit to get there. Be sure that you know what time you need to get up in order to get to your race before the starting gun goes off. Also, be sure that you know how to get there. Account for setbacks and traffic congestion that you may encounter. Remember Murphy’s Law – “What can go wrong, will go wrong.”
9. Be Prepared – Have all of your gear, bib, snacks, and clothes ready the night before your race. In a situation where you wake up late, you should be ready to head out the door in minutes. One of the biggest time-consuming tasks that I encounter on race day is getting that bib pinned to my shirt. Go ahead and get that out of the way to save you critical time. Have a small, energy-packed breakfast premade the night before as well.
10. Get Plenty of Sleep – This one’s a bit tricky. With all the excitement and anticipation for a race, it can be difficult getting any sleep. If your 5k is a morning run, be sure to get to bed early. I typically get somewhere between 4 and 6 hours of sleep the night before a race. It is beneficial to get more than this, but don’t worry if you fall short of 7 hours. Some people read a calming book, work a crossword puzzle, or drink a glass of wine to help them get to sleep. I like to meditate a bit to speed up the process.
I hope that this has helped you to feel better prepared for your race tomorrow. Good luck on your run and remember to keep relaxed and enjoy yourself. Would you add anything else to this checklist? Please let me know (below) what you do to prepare yourself for a 5k race.
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If you’re thinking about running a half-marathon, check out this training guide