by Helen Tamblyn

Race Day Preparation

So you’ve decided to take on a challenge? You’ve done the hard work and you’re now looking forward to race day. However, how you prepare the day before can have an impact on your race. Four time marathon finisher and Up For A Challenge writer, Helen Tamblyn, shares her advice for race day preparation.


Meal plan

Now is not the time to try out new recipes. Plan a suitable meal for the night before and lay out your breakfast ingredients. Whenever I’m running a distance race, I like to enjoy my tried and tested pasta with turkey meatballs and pesto for my pre-race evening meal. It has a good balance of carbs and protein and causes no ill effects. Other sensible choices could be tomato based pasta or risotto. For breakfast, I usually opt for simple Marmite or jam on wholemeal toast, or granola and yoghurt, followed up with a banana about an hour before race time. Choose something simple and then make sure you have the ingredients in. You don’t want to be panicking on race morning because the bread has gone mouldy, or because you’ve run out of something!



Check your clothes and equipment

Check your viagracouponcard race outfit. I ran the Brighton Marathon in 2011 wearing two left socks. It wasn’t pleasant. I’d grabbed a pair of socks from my drawer without checking that they were actually a pair. Go through everything you plan to wear; your top, your bottoms, underwear, socks, footwear. Do you need an outer layer? Are you taking part in a triathlon? Have you got your bike shoes? Is your helmet labelled? Pin your race number to your top using safety pins, or event clips. Is your bike in top condition? Are your shoe laces fraying? Attach your timing chip. Many race organisers provide competitors with a checklist of things to do – use it! You don’t want the heartbreak of completing an event, just to realise you forgot to attach your timing chip.



Check travel

It’s no secret that travel is often a nightmare at the weekend, when most races take place, with public transport in London being especially bad. Work out your route in advance and make sure that bus/train routes are due to be working as planned. Keep an eye on weekend timetables and engineering works. If you’re able, it might even be worth a dry run of your route in advance. Allow plenty of time to get to race headquarters – it’s far better to get there early and relax rather than get there late, rush through bag drop and get to the start line in a stressed out state. You don’t want your heart racing before the event has begun!



Race day strategy

Think about what you plan to do on the day. Are you going for a personal best? Are you going to use a pacer? Check your wave and work out where to place yourself. Are you going to carry fluid and fuel or are you going to use what’s provided on the day? If the latter, make sure that you’ve tried it out in the weeks leading up to the event. Find out where your support crew is likely to be and give them a wave as you go by – they will give you a huge boost.



Sleep well

Many of us find it difficult to sleep the night before a big event, but I am still a big believer in an early night as lying down will encourage your mind to switch off and your body will be resting, even if you don’t sleep well. Get everything read, watch something mindless on TV, or curl up with a good book, take a hot bath to relax and go to bed. Your body will thank you in the morning!