Last-Minute Tips for Race Day

Now that you’ve put the work in to train for the Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon & 5K, it’s time for the finishing touches. These tips will help you get to race day fully energized and ready to run your best.

The 2 Days Before:

Fluids:  Proper hydration is a very important part of an athlete’s nutritional requirements. You want to start the process hydration several days before your race to support your performance. Do not assume that you can “catch up” with fluids during your race.

Diet: You need energy to run. Even if you are a die-hard Paleo or low-carb diet follower, you should choose ample healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grain breads and pastas, to build up your energy stores. And you definitely should get a good carb-loaded dinner the night before your race to make sure you’re ready to go on race day.

Sleep: Excitement, nervous energy and other factors will likely interfere in getting solid sleep the night before your race. Therefore, try to get a couple of good nights of sleep earlier in the week. Wake up early so that your body is used to getting up at the time of your race.

Get off your feet:  Especially for people traveling to run a race, avoid the temptation to expend a lot of energy and effort.  Save your legs for your race and get off your feet as much as possible. Get your race packet early, and minimize sightseeing/exploring when traveling to races.

Training:   You want your legs fresh for the race. If you have not been training, this is not the time for last-minute long runs—save your energy and hope for the best! Some people choose to take days off right before your race.  However, this risks sluggishness on race day.  For at least one of the two days before your race, consider a short and easy run early in the morning to keep your legs in a state of readiness.

Race-Day Morning:

Wake up early: you should set your alarm for at least 2-4 hours before your race, allowing your body to fully wake up.

Diet:  For immediate energy that will last through the morning, have a carb-based breakfast/snack of about 100-300 calories. If you are running a long race, have a plan for getting some nutrition along the way.

Training: A warmup before your race has scientifically proven effects that will help you perform your best. Include a short run and a mix between traditional and dynamic stretching. Just before the race, avoid idle time at the starting line. Do some striders to stay race-ready.

Eshwar Kapur MD, is a sports medicine physician who practices at Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco, where he specializes in running medicine. Dr. Kapur ran varsity cross-country and track and field for the University of Virginia and has been running for more than 25 years without injury. He has participated in medical coverage for races around the country including the New York City Marathon, the Cherry Blossom Run in Washington, D.C., and the Nike Women’s Marathon, where he was featured as a guest speaker at their Expotique pre-race expo.