Race days are often the highlight of an athlete's career. When so much is on the line, every step you take before your race day is crucial.
TAKE IT AS JUST ANOTHER DAY
One of the biggest secrets to success is to, ironically, approach race day as an average training day. While it is important to prepare well, you should not try to make the day an unusual one, especially if you are thinking of experimenting or trying something new.
Get ready your equipment the night before, for example, your shoes, socks, shorts and singlet (pin your number bib). It is important not to wear anything you have not worn at least three or four times before, preferably for training. You would not want to experience any unexpected discomfort.
Tapes and lubricating gels should be used to cover sensitive body parts that are prone to abrasion.
If you are listening to music, prepare the playlist.
GET SOME SLEEP
It is normal to be anxious - all your hard work culminates in this one day. It is usual to not have the deepest sleep the night before. Even top athletes are not spared the sleeplessness and anxiety.
It is actually the sleep several days out that plays a bigger role in your performance. So try not to think about your race that night.
If you are racing at a time that is not during your usual training hours, it is best to slowly adjust your sleep and training patterns accordingly, at least eight to 10 days before the marathon. This will also greatly help in your sleep the night before.
HAVE A SIMPLE MEAL
Have breakfast at least three hours before the start, preferably food with a low glycaemic index so that your blood glucose level rises slower and more steadily.
Avoid acidic fruit and fruit juices, and go for bananas. It will be best to stay away from dairy products too.
MAKE YOUR WAY TO START LINE
Always be early. Plan your way to the start line, taking into account road closures, long queues and huge crowds.
Get in your dynamic warm-ups.
STICK TO YOUR RACE PLAN
Competition time often raises adrenaline levels and, naturally, you would have a tendency to run too fast in the first few kilometres. It would be prudent to hold off in the first 10 minutes and start slightly slower than your planned race pace.
If you are using fixed splits for different intervals (for example, 5km, 10km or 21km mark), write them down on your forearm. Having a quick look makes it easy to check whether you are following the race plan.
Now you are ready to go out there and have a blast.