Race day tips from reigning Sun Run Champion Justin Kent.
Your in-person racing drought is almost over.
The crisp morning autumn air. The calmness and serenity along the seawall. The crowds of eager people anxiously awaiting the start line AND the inevitably long porta-potty lineups. Race morning; there’s nothing quite like it. And If you’re feeling rusty after a year or more without racing, fear not, you’re not alone.
Here’s a few reminders on how to get the best out of yourself come race day.
1. Gear check
Make sure you’ve got the necessary equipment to roll come race day. Like anything, practice makes perfect, and the more familiar you become with your race day routine the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel on race day.
Check your shoes, make sure they’re still feeling good and not too worn out. If you’re thinking about getting a new pair for race day, make sure to get a couple runs in beforehand to make sure everything is feeling good. Even test out your race attire, head to toe, making sure everything fits well and is not too loose or abrasive. The night before a race I like to lay out my race kit and try it on. It’ll help you get mentally prepared and excited for the big day.
2. Course Scouting
Take the time to familiarize yourself with the course.
Knowing where you are and how much further you have to go can really come in handy in the later stages of a race (If you are running the Turkey Trot, check our the course map here).
This includes sorting out the logistics of travel to and from the course. Nothing is worse than frantically trying to find parking or running to the start line just to catch your race. Taking the extra second to plan ahead of time can go a long way in calming your race day nerves and avoiding any unnecessary headaches the morning of.
If you’ve run a race before, you will have noticed that most people start running before it’s even started. A gentle jog, with a few faster paced strides will not only warm up your joints and muscles, but it will also get your body used to the motion of running.
I usually tell my athletes to get to the race 45-50min before so you have enough time to do an easy warmup and still factor in a few porta-potty stops.
4. Line up wisely
If you’re not wanting to get swept up by a fast start, position yourself towards the middle or the back of the pack. That way it's much easier to dictate your own pace and run the race you had planned. Remember, even though the gun goes, your chip time doesn’t start until you’ve crossed the starting line.
5. Break the race down
If this is your first 10k, treating it as a whole 10 kilometres could be quite daunting.
Instead, break it down into 2km chunks or smaller segments. It won’t make the race any shorter but it’ll help keep your mind occupied and motivated in the later stages of the race. If the going gets tough in the last couple kilometres, focus on landmarks a few hundred meters ahead and tell yourself you can walk or jog when you get there. Chances are you’ll be able to keep going when you get there. Your body follows your mind.
6. Enjoy the moment
It’s been a while since we’ve been able to stand on the starting line and experience those pre-race butterflies with thousands of others. Soak it all in, take each kilometre as they come and have fun. Whether this is your first 10km or your 1000th, I guarantee you will all remember your first in-person race post pandemic.
Good luck & have fun,