Here are my 6 tips to help you worry less and enjoy more in the lead up to the start line.

I once was awoken by a hotel fire alarm at 2am the morning of Paris Marathon. It took a while for it to be turned off and I found it tough getting back to sleep. The morning I was tired and a little nervous about the race. All the other times my lack of sleep and race nerves have been due to poor planning, overthinking staying up late or a combination of them all. However, since I put in place an easy process I am sleeping better, longer and feeling a lot more chilled at the start line. Here are my top tips to help you worry less and enjoy more. 

1. Flat lay

Runners on social media are likely to be familiar with the term flat lay. It is when a runner takes a picture of their race day kit and posts it on social media ahead of race day. The kit generally includes trainers, top, bottoms, socks, nutrition, headphones and sometimes race number. I am not sure how they started but they are a great way to visualise your race day kit and check you have everything you need.

2. Early bedtime

Waking up late and tired is not a great way to start race day. I suggest avoiding the temptation to hang out after the pasta party and go to bed early. There’s nothing worse than having to organise kit late before race day so make sure you have done all preparations during the day. You will be able to switch off and hopefully get a full night’s sleep knowing that everything is ready to go. Set that alarm giving you a decent amount of time with a buffer in case of delays.

3. Stay focused

We can lose precious time trying to make decisions when tired so stick to the script. I suggest you place your kit, including race number, timing tag, gels, headphones, etc all in one place. This will prevent you worrying and it’s reassuring to see everything at a glance. Maybe you have a flat lay in the corner or a list which you can use to tick things off. The key thing is do what works best for you to remove guessing lessen the stressing and get you out of the door on time.

4. Fuel good

If breakfast is included in your pre race plan then plan ahead. That means if you are in a hotel checking ahead of time that breakfast is served at suitable time for you. If you have dietary requirements these are stated on your booking. It is good to mention any dietary requirement and the need for an early breakfast when checking in. This gives them adequate time to accommodate you or gives you time to make alternative arrangements.

5. Don’t rush

If everything else has gone to plan resist the temptation to run. I appreciate the excitement and wanting to get situated but rushing will only raise your heart rate and possibly stress you out. While traveling to the start I suggest doing something that relaxes you like reading, listening to chill music or podcast. Transport is likely to be busy so it is good to have the option to let a bus or train go if it is full. Save your energy, elevated heart rate and rushing for the race.

6. Ready steady

On arrival at the start get everything done as soon and as smoothly as possible. The signs should confirm what you read in the race day guides. Before you deposit your bag at the bag drop make sure you have everything you need. You don’t want to have to re join queue because you forgot something. I suggest using the porta loos early as they tend to run out of paper. Just to be safe bring your own. Compose yourself and head to the start. Talking to complete strangers can be a way of distracting you, calming your mind and pleasantly passing the time. Before the countdown starts make sure your tech is connected and ready to go. Repeat your mantra to motivate yourself, slow down your breathing and enjoy your strides.

I hope these tips help you to have great races and remember to take it all is your stride. Let's go!

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Rey Smart

Personal Trainer from London



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