It’s now been a year since I ran my first 10K race, and tomorrow I’m running my next – Race For Life in Delamere Forest. Whilst it’s unlikely I’ll be achieving that elusive sub-45 minute tomorrow, it’s given me a chance to reflect on the races I’ve done over the past year, especially that very first one where I didn’t know what to expect.
Laura from Fat2Fit has written a great post on how to prepare for a race, so elaborating on this I thought I’d add a couple of anecdotes I’ve experienced myself on race day. I am Queen of not listening to advice, thinking I know better, so I have certainly made a few mistakes to learn from..!
You shouldn’t be doing anything new on race day, whether that be food, dress, or any other process. As I was getting ready for the Manchester 10K I decided to try something fairly elaborate with my hair: I thought it was a great idea to attempt to French braid the back of my hair going up into a bun for the first time ever, and the numerous failed attempts set me back a good half an hour and I was having a total meltdown. About my hair! Seriously. In the end I just put my hair up in a ponytail. Doing new things adds more stress to an already stressful situation so stick with what you know.
As well as laying out your kit to ensure you’ve got everything, I recommend running in your full kit at least once before the race. My friend Stewart told me he’d run with a waistbelt with a few things in before, but when it was full of gels on marathon day it felt totally different – I found this too with my pack full of Boost bars. During a 10K you don’t really need fuel or water (unless it’s a very hot day) so tomorrow I’ll be wearing the bare minimum of a tee and tights, and I have decided to wear my new Skins compression tights* so I took them for a test run today. Compression increases blood flow to your muscles so is brilliant for recovery after a run, but since I’m trying to push my 10K pace a bit I will be wearing them during the race to hopefully reduce lactic acid build-up. Plus, I love the print; it’ll look awesome with my pink RFL tee! I also like to take long compression socks and put them on straight after the race for a speedy recovery, too, but again if this isn’t something you’ve done during training I wouldn’t worry about rushing out to buy a pair.
Car parking and toilets are another thing I tend to get in a flap about on race day. Morning of the Manchester Marathon (which started at 9am.. 9am!) we were late to leave the flat, then there was a queue for the car park, then a queue for the toilets, which meant I didn’t have chance to go before the race started. Give yourself the best chance by researching how to get to the race in good time, and figure out exactly how long it’ll take. Add in some extra time for traffic, queues and car park issues. That will have you there in good time to go to the toilet at least once before the run – because you’ll want to go even if you went just before you left the house, trust me.
I know a lot of people choose Race For Life as their very first race so maybe you’re reading this now and joining me in the run tomorrow! If you’re yet to enter one don’t forget you can get £2 off entry using the code RFLSQUAT. If you have any last-minute panics on race day, whether it’s tomorrow in the near future, feel free to get in touch (Tweeting me is likely to get the fastest response) for advice or even just sympathy! Once the race is over all your worries will seem trivial, then it’s time for the main event: that post-race meal. I recommend fish, chips and mushy peas, or just your favourite meal of all time. You’ve earned it.