Race Day Considerations: Pre-Game Ritual

It doesn’t matter what sport it is – every athlete has his or her own way of getting ready for the big game. Running is no different

pre game ritual

We all have our own ways of preparing for the race and how we schedule our morning/afternoon evening. I’ve got a fairly set routine of how I like to do things, and when I’m in my coaching capacity, there is a certain routine that we insist our athletes do as well. For me, some important aspects of my day before the race are:

1) Arrive early – I’m probably going to be at the Army Run by 8am on Sunday –

to cheer on the 5K race and also to just get settled in

2) Go to the bathroom – doesn’t really need to be explained

3) Warm up – various arm and leg drills, run about 1K or so

4) Tie my shoes 20x – not kidding

5) Have some sport gummies and water

6) Turn on the tunes and just chillax – I also like to people watch

It isn’t anything too extravagant – but it is how I like to do things. What are some other important aspects of race morning that one should consider?

Be awake

Although it may be tempting to sleep until the last possible second before a race, especially if you happen to be only a few minutes from the start line – you still want to be up for several hours before the race starts. You want to be awake and alert, have time to eat and digest and get yourself ready.

Getting to the race site

Is parking ample? Is parking free? Is there construction? Is it better to take the OC transpo instead (yes, yes it is). If it is Sunday, what is the bus schedule like? I cut it way too close with Ottawa Race Weekend – I had 20 minutes to get ready.

Warm Clothes

Many people show up to races just in their race gear. This is something I tend not do to. I will usually arrive at the race in some form of sweats and not ditch them until right before the race. You want your muscles to remain warm and not get too cool before the start. If it is chilly out, you definitely want to keep warm. You can quickly give your sweats to a friend/family member, throw a bag in bag check or utilize the “throwaway layer” technique and buy thrift store sweats to toss when you are warm. Many races even have Goodwill bins for you to dump your throwaways!

Washroom Time

Sometimes an event will only have 2-3 portapotties for 1000 people. One of the reasons I like to get to a race super early, is so I have time to hit up the washroom before hand. Some races will only have portapotties, but some will have indoor washroom facilities as well. That doesn’t mean there will not be a line. Army Run and the Ottawa Race Weekend have a portapotty city, but I was surprised on how big the lines were for Race weekend. Luckily, I was in wave 2 and had 15 extra minutes.

Warm up

It is crucial to get a good warm up in before starting a race, especially for the shorter races. You don’t want to spend the first KM of a 5K warming up – you should be ready to go with toes on the line. For a half or full marathon, you can warm-up in the first part of the race, but it would still be a good idea to do some dynamic drills before the start.

Relax and Breath

Races can be very stressful. Being at the site early allows you to sit back and relax a bit before the race starts. I also tend to get to the start and just concentrate on my breathing before the gun goes off. You cannot beat the rush of adrenaline right before the start!

Other rituals

I’ve seen several rituals done by runners over the years. Everything from yelling out random words, doing dances, kissing charms on a necklace, and even handshakes right before the gun. I’m pretty plain-jane and only really tie my shoelaces 20x. Everyone has their own little thing to get rid of those last minute nerves.


What are some of your race day rituals?


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  1. Lisa @ Lulus Big Adventure

    Haha we are so opposite in terms of #1. I show up as late as possible because I’m a lazy bum.
    Lisa @ Lulus Big Adventure recently posted…Settling into Life in NYCMy Profile

  2. Kristen @ Glitter and Dust

    These are great. It is fun to learn about other runner’s rituals and race day preparation tactics. I like to get up early enough to enjoy a cup of coffee, eat a banana with peanut butter, use the restroom, braid my hair, use the restroom, drive to the race site, use the restroom (yes, I know, the nerves), warm up, then race. I always have gum and chap stick with me when I race. Necessities.
    Kristen @ Glitter and Dust recently posted…Training Updates, Girl’s Weekend, and SurgeryMy Profile

  3. Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom

    DEFINITELY the bathroom 😉 I will usually eat some PB and make sure I have my fuel…although I usually forget that anyways.
    Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom recently posted…Running in the BahamasMy Profile


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