by Angela Simpson, blogger at Eat Spin Run Repeat
When it comes to competing in races away from home, there are a lot of decisions to be made. You’ve got to decide how you’re going to get yourself to the start line, where you’re going to meet up with your friends to take celebration selfies when you finish, and everything in between. Since we don’t always make the most logical decisions on race morning, here are my top five tips to help make your next destination race your best yet.
1. Check the weather and plan accordingly.
Weather has potential to make or break your race if you don’t come properly prepared. For a couple of weeks prior to your trip, punch your destination into your phone’s weather app and watch to see what the conditions are like. Will your race be first thing in the morning? If so, take a look at the morning forecast rather than the daily high – it’ll probably be much cooler at this time than at mid-day.
2. It’s all about the layers.
Just because the forecast says there’s only a 50% chance of rain doesn’t mean that it’s not going to, and you don’t want to be stuck in a wet shirt, shorts and shoes before the race even begins. Layering is key when it comes to dressing for events that might be chilly or wet, so be sure to think about your base layers, mid-layers, and outer layers while you’re planning your race outfit. For spring or fall races, I usually opt for a tank top, running jacket and compression tights. If it’s going to be really cold, then I’ll pack thermal tights, a long-sleeve mid-layer to go under my jacket, socks that cover my ankles, an ear warmer and gloves.
Be sure to also pack a change of clothes to celebrate in post-race, and if it’s going to be cold or wet outside, make these layers warm ones. Anticipating rain? Pack them in a garbage bag to keep them nice and dry, and toss in an extra garbage bag to use as a DIY-poncho if needed!
3) Keep your race day essentials in your hand luggage.
This is super important, and if you’ve ever had an airline lose your luggage, you’ll know why! You might already be feeling nervous about the race during the days prior, and you don’t want to be left scrambling to find a store that sells your preferred brand of running shoes the night before. I like to pack my shoes, outfit, heart rate monitor, nutrition, and race morning breakfast in my carry-on bag, and that brings me to my next tip...
4) Stick with the foods you trust.
You’ve heard it before I’m sure, but a race is NOT the time to be trying anything new when it comes to nutrition. If you’re going to be participating in an endurance event, ideally you’ve tested out a few different fueling options beforehand and have a good sense of what your stomach deals with best.
When it comes to packing, think about everything you’d normally eat before, during and after a training session and pack those items. Can’t pack them? Instead, make it a priority to track them down as soon as you arrive at your destination.
For half marathon races, my nutrition protocol is pretty consistent. My race morning breakfast is always eaten at least 2 hours prior to go time, allowing enough time to for digestion to happen. If I’m not at home, I’ll make a point of finding a grocery store so that I can buy those breakfast items and keep them in my hotel room. Although my race breakfast varies, what I consume within 1 hour of racing is always the same. My essential item is Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer, and I drink it about 20 minutes prior to racing.
Depending on the length of the race and the heat, I’ll also use Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator and Endurance Gels to keep myself fueled throughout. Of course you can use on-course nutrition, but I prefer to carry my own because I’m confident that it has worked for me in training.
5) Charge up all of your tech gadgets.
It would be tragic if your heart rate monitor died mid-race (well, maybe not tragic, but not ideal), and likewise with your phone when it comes time for taking celebratory photos after you cross the finish line. Pack your chargers and plug in all your gadgets the day before you race to avoid having this happen, and if you like to run with music, a brand new playlist probably wouldn’t hurt either!