Ready? Here are some pre-race tips to help you get set and go!

Countdown to Race Day: Last-Minute Advice

If you’re running the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon & 5K on Sunday, chances are you’re busy following checklists and making preparations. But you may also feel a little worried: “Have you thought of everything?” Here’s some last-minute advice from our experts at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco to help you get the most out of your race.

Don’t Worry, Be Excited

If you’re a little nervous, welcome to the club, says Kaiser Permanente Physical Therapist Brian Soo. “There’s no way you’re not going to feel a little hyped up before a race.” How to calm down? Think back to past races or training runs, and reminding yourself of past successes, Soo says.  “You’ve done all this before, and know you can do it.” He recommends getting organized the night before, laying out your running outfit and stocking pockets with any supplies you’re planning to carry. You’ll save yourself time and also help ensure you don’t forget anything important.

Know Where to Go

Nothings boosts anxiety like being late, and of course the last thing you want is to get lost en route. Here are all the Race Day details you need to be in the right place at the right time.

Plan Ahead to Hydrate

Starting early is the secret to good hydration, according to Heather D’Eliso Gordon, sports dietician and nutrition health coach at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. But in winter, when we feel less thirsty, we have to remind ourselves to hydrate. The day before the race, drink eight medium-sized glasses of water, starting first thing when you get up and spacing them out throughout the day.

While the race has plenty of water stations, some runner prefer to carry their own water. If you choose to do so,  think about filling your bottle with a sports drink that can replenish sodium, potassium, magnesium, and other electrolyte minerals. This is particularly important if you tend to sweat heavily.

Make Dinner a Carb Fest

For dinner the night before the race, choose foods that are high in carbohydrates, like

  • Potatoes
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Bread, Crackers, or other Baked Goods
  • Tortillas or crackers
  • Oatmeal

But don’t go too heavy on the fat, which can slow you down, or the fiber, which can upset your digestion.  fiber-heavy foods, which can upset your digestion the next day, and a meal heavy in fat can slow you down. Because heartburn can disturb you sleep, stay away from acidic foods or anything that typically upsets your digestion.

Eat Breakfast Early

Many runners don’t like to eat right before a race, but skipping breakfast is a bad idea. The solution, says Kaiser Permanente training team captain Jodi Thirtyacre, unfortunately calls for getting up early, so you can eat about two hours before the race. Thirtyacre, a veteran of many races, swears by toast topped with peanut butter and banana. She then eats a granola bar or something quick and light about half an hour before the race.

Expect the Unexpected

No matter how prepared you are, you’ll almost certainly have some surprises along the way. Side stitches are always a challenge for Jodi Thirtyacre, while Brian Soo says to be prepared for chafing or irritation. Many runners also experience dips in blood sugar that leave them feeling lightheaded or dizzy. This occurs when the glycogen fuel stored in your muscles and liver runs out. A good solution is to carry energy goo or gel for a quick “fix.”

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.