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Race Day Preparation - What you should do

Get your preparations right so you get to the start line of your race. Mentally and physically prepared and knowing you haven't forgotten anything or done anything that could be detrimental to your performan...

Runners quite often ask me what’s the best way to prepare for race day. 

Everyone has own processes they go through and for me, as an ultra runner, it can be quite a complex exercise, depending on the event I am facing, the length, the temperatures and weather etc, so I asked a friend Dr Rajat Chauhan, founder of one of my most incredible races ever, La Ultra The High, the ultra marathon that goes 222km over the two highest passes in the world in the Indian Himalayas, to outline his process for raceday preparation and then supplemented them with my own thoughts .

Here are some basic rules:

1. Don’t try anything new on race day - stick to the methods that worked for you during training.

2. Get familiar with the route on the map and how you will get to the starting point. (a cautionary and funny story here was when my friend Macca aka Alex Mckenzie was doing the 100km nationals in Taupo but got stuck in the traffic jam at 2.30am in the morning of relay runners and missed the starting time and had to start the race an hour late and 5km before the actual starting line. Funny thing was he still passed me at 70km and went on to get second, make sure that doesn’t happen to you.) 

3. The day before the race, take it easy - if you have been training,you would have done enough but, if you really must, limit yourself to a 1-2 kilometre walk/run in the morning and don’t train in the evening. That way you are keeping the body ticking over so you don’t get stiff and sore from lack of movement (which happens when you are addicted to or used to exercising daily.) 

By around 7.30pm the night before 

Pack your bags - you will need three small bags to fit into one lightweight and waterproof bag. One bag is for the stuff you will need in the morning, one is for the things you will need during the race and the third is for the stuff you will need after you cross the finish line,

Do not pack anything new, especially t-shirts or shoes, for the day of the race - everything you pack, should have been tried and tested during your training runs and not just once but several times. Here is a list of times you are likely to need in each bag. This does of course depend on the race you are doing but will give you an idea.

Morning /pre-race bag

Full-sleeve T-shirt or tracksuit top

Track pants

mobilie phone

water bottle

Large vin liner - if it’s cold, a bin liner works very well to keep you warm while you wait for the run to begin and you won’t mind discarding it as you set off.

For men - thick chafing cream, or micropore tape to protect your nipples as bleeding from friction is not unusual and is painful.

The same cream can help if your thighs tend to rub together or for ladies you might want some under the breast where the bra is as this can cause chafing too.

Running bag.

Running shoes


Dry-weave t-shirt - not cotton

Bib with your participant number attached by four safety pins to the corners or put on an elastic to go around your waist. On the back of your number its good to write your name and phone number of a person to contact in an emergency.

shorts or tights



belt pouch or equivalent for on-the-run snacks.

After-race Bag

Water bottle

Dry snack foods, fruit, muesli bars etc.

A complete change of clothes, including fresh underwater and a pair of comfortable open shoes. Blister pack and adhesive bandages and plasters for any chafing issues.

The night before

Eat a good balanced meal before 8pm, you don’t need to go crazy carboloading on poor quality carbs like pasta as is traditional but a little extra on your plate of good nutritional food would be good. High quality carbohydrates and some protein and good fats. 

Call the people you intend to carpool with if you have any arrangements, and check all is set to go. Set an alarm and have a back up system in place. 

Go to bed early and do some visualisation exercises alongside some deep breathing exercises to calm your nerves and go through a successful and positive race in your minds eye. Meditate and focus your mind only on positive helpful thoughts. Cut any fearful or negative thoughts off at the knees and, even talk to yourself if you have to. 

Every time a negative thought pops in let it pass and try to perceive the upcoming event as a challenge and not a threat. 

It’s now no use thinking about what you didn’t do right in the build up or what has gone wrong or what the consequences will be if you fail or muck up. None of these thoughts will help you achieve your optimal performance so kick them out of your mind. 

If you like this article check out this video all about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT training): HIIT Training