Training Tip: Preparing for Race Day

All of your hard work is about to pay off: Follow this checklist to prepare for race day.

By Alyssa Shaffer
Photograph: Photo by: iStockphoto

Plan developed by Mindy Solkin, owner and head coach of The Running Center in New York City.

One or Two Days Before

>Get a good night’s sleep. Often the night before the race will leave you tossing and turning, so at least two or more nights before race day, make sure you get ample shut-eye.

>Drink up. You want to be sure you’re well hydrated when standing on the starting line, so drink plenty of water this week and throughout the day on Saturday. You want your pee to be a light color, like straw.

>Make sure you’re getting all your complex carbs this week — but this is definitely not the time to be sampling new cuisine. Feel free to have a nice bowl of pasta on Saturday night, with a little low-fat protein, like chicken, fish, or beans, to keep you energized.

>Check out the race course. If you’re traveling to New York from out of town, familiarize yourself with the starting line and finish, and be sure you know how you’re going to get there. Picture yourself cruising along the race course, feeling strong and confident.

>Lay out all of your clothes the night before the race, along with your race bib and sneakers. Check the weather to determine the conditions, and bring a few layers than you can throw off if the weather is chilly. And don’t wear anything new — especially if you’re doing the full 26.2 distance. A label that chafes you or a pair of shorts that don’t fit quite right can become a nightmare after just a few miles. And of course, don’t wear new shoes.

Race Day

>Get up early, and plan on getting to the starting line at least an hour before the race so you don’t feel rushed or pressured (and so you’ll have plenty of time to use the porta-potty).

>Eat breakfast. You don’t need anything too heavy, and it’s not the time to try something new, but put something in your belly to prevent hunger and keep your blood sugar level normal.

>Remember where your friends and family are going to be (and be sure to ask them which side they will be standing on so you can find them easily).

>Most of all, have fun! It’s incredibly rewarding to complete a race that you’ve trained so hard for. Enjoy your surroundings, and yourself. And don’t forget to smile at the finish line!

Next Training Tip: Sharpening Your Mental Focus

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Originally published on, January 2009.

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