Health Tips for Runners

 Week Before The Race

Last Updated: June 29, 2023
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If you are one week out from the big race day, here are some tips to help to prepare for the big day!

  1. Shop at your local thrift shop to find throw away clothes to help you stay warm, if the weather will be cold or rainy.  If you buy throw-away gloves or warm up jacket, then you won't mind donating it to someone else. 
  2. Involve a friend or family. Tell someone special about your training and your jitters, then ask them to help cheer you on race day (in person or from a distance). Then you can tell them about the race after you have finished!
  3. Taper your workouts. Reduce to about 50-60% of your heaviest training weeks. 
  4. Planning for race day. Check out the race route to know the hills and elevation, water spots and the temporary toilets.

Starting line of the Army 10-miler 

Pre-Race Day Tips

The day before the race is usually picking up the race packet and potentially getting to the race location. Don't change your daily routine too much. 

  1. Exercise on the day before is optional.  Some runners might want to try a 20-minute jog and stretching to help with the pre-race jitters.  Many runners plan for a rest day. 
  2. Day before diet. Most runs are in the morning, so eat foods you are familiar with for the evening meal avoiding high fiber food, fatty/greasy food and alcohol.  
  3. Organize your clothes. Layout all of your clothes, race bib and safety pins. Don't forget your sunscreen.
  4. Don't over carb. Contrary to popular belief, short term carb loading may cause you to feel sluggish and bloated in the morning. Top off your glycogen stores with a balanced meal, but don't over eat. 
  5. Hydrate. Make sure you are maintaining your hydration status the day before the race, but there is no need to overhydrate with water or sports drinks.  There is little evidence of pre-loading with water or sports drinks has a performance benefit. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, both of which can cause dehydration and interfere with your sleep. The Institute of Medicine recommends that athletic men drink 104 ounces of water and (13 glasses) and athletic women drink 72 ounces (9 glasses) per day.
  6. Get a good night sleep. Make sure your mind and body are well rested the day before and the week before the race.  Try to sleep bank the week before, if possible. 

Race Day Tips

  1. Do not try anything new the day of the race. This includes food, clothes, shoes, etc. If you have new shoes, make sure you have worn them for at least two weeks prior to the race. If have new clothes for the race, make sure you've have at least one test-run in them prior to race day. This will help to judge for weather conditions also. The same thing applies for your food and beverages.  Stick to the same route as you have for your long training runs. 
  2. Don't over dress.  Most racers will warm up quickly during the race. Plan for about 15 degrees hotter than the actual temperature.  Most races have a coat check at the start of the race to check your clothes to store during the race, so you can dress in layers.  
  3. Get to the race early. This will give you extra time for parking and finding the toilets and get in line early. 
  4. Establish a meeting place for after the race. Think about an easy meeting spot for fellow runners and folks that might be cheering you on along the race course. Plan for a post-race restaurant, if there are thousands of other racers having the same idea. 
  5. Drinking on the run.  You don't have to drink at every water station and drink the entire cup. Pinch the sides of the cup up to make it easier to drink. 
  6. Enjoy your own pace along the route. Remember this is for fun. There are fast and slow runners, settle into a comfortable pace to finish strong. 
  7. Remember – you have trained for this and you have got this!  You might feel like quitting along the way, but think about how great you will feel at the end!
  8. Recovery – Keep walking for a half mile to avoid cramping up. Replenish with high quality carbohydrate and protein within 30 minutes of the race. An Epson salt bath for 20 minutes can help with sore muscles. Take another walk for 20 to 30 minutes later in the day and keep drinking water throughout the day. 

One Day Post Race

  1. Keep moving with a light walk to loosen the muscles.  Massage will also help with tight muscles. 
  2. Eat anti-inflammatory foods. Veggies, fruits, yogurt, vitamin C rich foods, berries and salmon are all good for healing. 
  3. Heat or ice (if needed). Heat is good for tightness and ice is for swelling. ​
  4. Start planning for your next race!