It’s finally time for your big race — you know, the one that you (supposedly) trained for. Race weekend can be a mixture of emotions. So many questions are flying through your head: What will the weather be like? What beer will you drink afterwards? And most importantly, do your shoes match your outfit?
With all the uncertainty floating around, it’s nice to have some solid information to go by, but also just as helpful to have a not-to-do list. Stick to these simple rules for what NOT to do on race weekend, and the rest should be a breeze!
1. Start Training
Now is not the time to start getting things moving. As the old saying goes, “The hay is in the barn.” There should have been months of training prior to race weekend. Stressing out your muscles a few days before the big race could lead to exhaustion and a poor performance. Following a proper training guide can be an easy way to be prepared.
2. Scare Yourself
If this is your first race, try not to psych yourself out. The countdown is coming to a close and the day is finally upon you. All those hours of training, the hope for a PR, and let’s not forget your family is watching… Don’t get scared now!
3. Netflix and Chill
Sitting on the couch all weekend binge watching “Stranger Things” is not the answer. Relaxation is key to a healthy race day but keeping the body moving and loose is better than stiff and tight. If you find yourself being a couch potato then try taking the dog for a walk. If you don’t have one, I will gladly let you borrow mine.
4. Do Keg Stands
I haven’t done one of these since college. Definitely don’t do a keg stand on race weekend. If you’re over the age of 23, then you shouldn’t be doing keg stands at all really, race day or not…
5. Buy New Race Shoes
Changing shoes before a race can be detrimental to your feet. Numerous injuries are due to the incorrect type of shoe. Always get properly fitted for your shoes at a local running store and be sure to run in them a few times before deciding to race in them. Get the feel for the shoe and make sure they work for you. Your feet will thank you later.
6. Change Your Diet
If you fueled yourself with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for two months during training then don’t change that now. Stick with what works for you and has a proven track record. The day before a big race is not the time to experiment with sushi for the first time.
7. Meet Friends For “Just One Beer”
Do people actually do that? I know how my friends are: they invite me out to have a beer and a burger, and before I know it I’ve had three shots of whiskey and I’m signing myself up for karaoke. The moral of the story is, play it safe on race weekend and save the beers for post-race, not pre-game.
8. Take New Advice
This goes for advice on any topic, as everyone thinks they’re an expert when you tell them that you have a race coming up. I used to be a sales associate for a running store and customers would come in saying, “I have a race tomorrow and my friend told me I need to eat gels beforehand. Do you sell those here?” Try to tune out most of the things that you hear, and keep to what you’ve been doing.
9. Switch Up Your Routine
If you wake up every morning at 5am, then continue to do so. Don’t change up your routine on race day weekend. Slight tweaks here and there can make a big difference to how your body performs. Sometimes it’s good to be a creature of habit.
10. Forget To Have Fun
This is the most important part of this entire list. Believe it or not, running can and should be considered fun. Racing and training is all about pushing yourself to new limits. At the same time, you need to enjoy it in order to get the full benefit. Take in the sights around you and give high fives to those cheering you on. Pump some music in your headphones and feel free to dance if it gets you through the race. Just keep a smile on your face and everything will be okay!
Joe Granat is a sales representative for Shmaltz Brewing Company. Besides being well versed in all things beer, running is his passion. His journey has landed him on major platforms like Trail Runner Magazine, Draft Magazine and Thrillist.