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Race Day Strategy

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By Michael Crawley

Often we put so much emphasis on the training and tapering before a race that we forget about the importance of the actual race morning. It is true that all the hard work is done well before the day of the race, however, by some simple planning and preparation you can help avoid any unwanted stress close to the start of the race.

Keep to a routine

If you have been having the same breakfast every morning before a training run or race then make sure you stick to this. You may be staying in a hotel so pack your usual pre-run breakfast and take it with you to avoid having to substitute it at the last minute. Also consider how long you have been leaving between breakfast and your run. Extra nerves before a race can slow digestion so make sure you leave ample time between eating and the start of the race.

Pack your bag the night before

Packing your race kit the previous night will help ease your mind so that it is not racing about what you need to do when you go to bed. Make sure you have shoes, any pre-race snack, vest, pins and in the very rare occasion Portaloos don’t have any toilet paper…it may be worth packing some in your pocket! On the subject of toilets, also check where the nearest ones are to the start for any last minute needs.

Check Directions

You may have been to the race start before or think you know the way. However, it may just be worth checking the directions and any road closures that may be in place. Sometimes big city centre races can cause diversions on the approach. Double checking this can save last minute panics travelling to the event.


Similar to the above, check the event parking including; how far you may have to walk and whether you will need kit (or a stylish makeshift poncho made from a bin bag) to keep you warm or dry before the start. Also make sure you have cash on you. Many race carparks will be cash only so again avoid last minute stresses by having a few quid tucked away in the car.

Practice your warm up

You may run straight out of the door in training but you are still likely to use the first mile to warm up and find your rhythm. It is no different on race day. Try and keep to a routine as this will help keep nerves at bay and stop you panicking when everybody else starts swinging their legs around in the air and stretching any conceivable muscle! In your taper week as you ease down, practice a short warm up routine that suits you then repeat it before the race. That way you’ll be ready to go and also look like you know what you’re doing!!

Michael Crawley is one of our sponsored athletes, and focuses primarily on the roads. He is also an ESRC-funded PhD student at Edinburgh University, studying the culture of long-distance running in Ethiopia.

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