Eight Tips for Staying Healthy During a Race

racing

Though you might have aspi­ra­tions to com­plete your run­ning race under a cer­tain time tar­get, your main goal should always be to fin­ish feel­ing strong and healthy. There are some vari­ables that might get in the way of this goal that are out of your control—the weath­er, for instance. But there are plen­ty of things that you can con­trol to ensure that you reach the fin­ish line in good shape.

Train
If you don’t put in the required miles ahead of time, you def­i­nite­ly risk feel­ing sluggish—or worse, injur­ing yourself—during a race. A prop­er train­ing pro­gram is extreme­ly impor­tant to make sure that you build up the strength you need to tack­le the dis­tance of the race. Find a plan that fits your needs and goals, and stick to it. Remem­ber: train­ing too hard and too fast can be just as dam­ag­ing as not train­ing at all.

training

Eat Well and Drink Up—All Week
Fuel­ing your­self with healthy foods and plen­ty of water will help you get to the top of your run­ning game, and that’s nev­er more impor­tant than the week before your race. Most peo­ple put in an extra effort to eat clean and drink lots of water the day before a race, but you’ll set your­self up to be in your best form if you focus on prop­er nutri­tion for the full week prior.

Change Noth­ing
Through­out your months of train­ing, you’ve devel­oped cer­tain habits around your run­ning. You’ve eat­en cer­tain things (that haven’t made you feel nau­seous or bloat­ed on your run), per­fect­ed your bath­room habits, and fig­ured out which clothes and shoes keep chaf­ing and blis­ters at bay. You know what works. Now, stick to it! Don’t be tempt­ed to try a new sports drink or wear the new shoes you picked up at the run­ning expo. To feel your best on race day, stick with the tried and true.

Catch Some Z’s
Pre-race jit­ters will like­ly pre­vent you from catch­ing a prop­er night’s sleep the night before your race, so make an extra effort to get a sol­id sleep the night before.

Start Slow
You’ve prob­a­bly heard it a mil­lion times before, but it bears repeat­ing: avoid the temp­ta­tion to start your race too fast! It’s easy to get caught up in the adren­a­line and excite­ment, but keep your pace sus­tain­able or risk burn­ing out.

Smell the Roses
If you get start line anx­i­ety, don’t wor­ry: you’re not alone. Try to sep­a­rate your­self from the crowds while you’re wait­ing if that makes you feel bet­ter. Invite fam­i­ly and friends to see you off to help you stay dis­tract­ed while you wait. Once the race starts, focus on tak­ing in your sur­round­ings and prac­tic­ing mind­ful­ness. You’ve put in your time—now, just focus on doing your best.

Hydrate
It can be tempt­ing to skip out on a crowd­ed hydra­tion sta­tion, but we rec­om­mend tak­ing the extra cou­ple of sec­onds to gulp down some water. The last thing you want is to feel dehy­drat­ed part­way through the race.

hydrate

Lis­ten to Your Body
Through­out the race, lis­ten to what your body is say­ing. It’s nor­mal to feel some dis­com­fort, espe­cial­ly if you’re push­ing your­self, but if you feel pain or nau­sea, slow down. Take a walk­ing break if you need to. Be will­ing to change your strat­e­gy if you’re not feel­ing well. Remem­ber, it’s just one race—if you take prop­er care of your­self, you’ll have many more chances to redeem yourself.