Here are some finer points to take your race day performance to the next level.

Race day brings a multitude of concerns for runners. Am I ready? Did I run enough mileage? Where does the course go? What should my pace be? These are all natural concerns.

Preparation and execution are the two keys to having success on the day of your race. Here are some finer points to take your race day performance to the next level.


All of your hard work, the early mornings, blisters, aches and pains lead up to today.  Regardless of your goal, this is the day. Having said all that, sometimes it is hard to focus all that passion into a positive race day experience. In moments like these I always find it helpful to focus on the basics. Having a race day checklist helps. It can calm your nerves and focus your mental energy towards preparation. Here is a checklist I use with my runners.

Race Day Checklist

— Racing Top

— Race Number

— Race Shoes

— Timing Chip

— Watch

— Water Bottle/Hydration Belt

— Energy Gel

— Body Glide/ Nipguards

— Throw Away T-Shirt

— Extra pair of socks

— Hat/Gloves

— Pacing Band

— Sunglasses

— Cash

Feeling ‘James Brown Good’

Regardless of how much you trained for your race, it is always important to not only feel good, but feel what I call James Brown good on race day. In reference to the song, there is no doubt how James Brown is feeling that day. You want to have that pep in your step and be excited for the race!

Just make sure you use that excitement for the entire course, not just the first mile. I recommend a sharp taper 72-48 hours before race day. Going for light jogs of 20-30 minutes, getting plenty of rest, and hydrating will help give you that bounce in your step.

Sometimes with work, school, family, stress, etc. it can be hard to be rested and be ready for race day. Use the last few days to really pamper yourself and start feeling good — like you knew you would!

RELATED: Out There: What’s Your Mental Mantra?


Know The Course
One of the most repeated phrases I say to my runners is “make sure to know the course.” It will help you mentally prepare for all the twists, turns and hills for any course you run. It will also help your pacing strategy and calm your mind from fear of the unknown. While most races today have detailed course maps, it is also good to run, walk, or drive the course or portions of the course beforehand.

Stick To The Plan
Many times, race day can be dramatically effected by poor pacing strategies. The longer races, such as half, full and ultramarathons require even or negative split pacing. With shorter races you can typically get away with more aggressive racing strategies.

Regardless of your strategy, it is important to have a plan and execute it on race day. This typically involves calming yourself down and holding back the first few miles. The right pacing plan can be the difference between a PR day and a could have, would have, should have type of day.

You Don’t Fail, You Just Learn
You will inherently have good, bad and ugly races. You can learn from all of them and be better the next time. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and always give yourself credit for the things you do well. You are faster than you think! Prepare well and execute your plan, and a PR may just be waiting for you at the finish line.

RELATED: 7 Traits Of Mentally Tough Runners


About The Author:

Tim Bradley is the owner and founder of Big River Personal Coaching and is the distance coach at Saint Louis University.