The Worst Things to Do Right Before a Race: Tips to Avoid Pre-Race Mistakes

1. Neglecting Warm-Up Routines

As athletes, we all know the importance of warming up before a race. However, it’s surprising how many people neglect this essential part of their pre-race routine. Skipping warm-ups can lead to a range of negative consequences, including poor performance, injury, and even long-term damage.

One of the most significant risks of neglecting warm-up routines is the increased likelihood of injury. Without a proper warm-up, our muscles, tendons, and ligaments are cold and stiff, making them more susceptible to strains and tears. This can lead to pain and discomfort that can affect our performance, or even force us to withdraw from the race altogether.

Another issue that can arise from neglecting warm-up routines is poor performance. When we don’t warm up, our bodies aren’t prepared for the physical demands of the race. This can result in slower times, reduced endurance, and an overall lack of energy and motivation. By taking the time to warm up properly, we can ensure that our bodies are ready to perform at their best.

To avoid these negative consequences, it’s essential to incorporate a proper warm-up routine into your pre-race preparations. This should include a combination of cardiovascular exercises, stretching, and mobility drills to help increase blood flow, loosen up muscles, and prepare the body for the rigours of the race ahead.

In summary, neglecting warm-up routines is one of the worst things you can do before a race. By taking the time to warm up properly, you can reduce the risk of injury, improve your performance, and ensure that you’re ready to tackle the challenges of the race ahead.

2. Consuming the Wrong Foods

As athletes, we know that proper nutrition is essential for optimal performance. However, consuming the wrong foods right before a race can have disastrous consequences. Here are two common mistakes to avoid:

Eating Heavy Meals

We’ve all heard the phrase “carb-loading” before a race, but this doesn’t mean stuffing ourselves with heavy, greasy foods. Eating a large meal that is high in fat and protein can slow down digestion and leave us feeling sluggish and bloated. This can negatively impact our performance and make us feel uncomfortable during the race.

Instead, we should focus on consuming a balanced meal that is high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat. This will provide us with the energy we need to perform at our best without weighing us down.

Trying New Foods

Trying new foods before a race is a recipe for disaster. Our bodies may not be accustomed to digesting certain foods, and this can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as cramping, bloating, and diarrhoea. This can be extremely uncomfortable and distracting during a race, and can even lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

It’s important to stick with foods that we know work well for us and avoid trying anything new right before a race. If we do want to try something new, we should do so well in advance of the race to ensure that our bodies have time to adjust and avoid any negative consequences.

By avoiding these common mistakes and focusing on proper nutrition, we can set ourselves up for success and perform at our best during our races.

3. Overhydrating or Dehydrating

When it comes to preparing for a race, hydration is crucial. However, overhydrating or dehydrating can both be detrimental to your performance.

Overhydrating can lead to hyponatremia, a condition where the sodium levels in your blood become too diluted. This can cause symptoms such as nausea, headache, confusion, seizures, and in severe cases, coma or death. It’s important to drink enough water to stay hydrated, but don’t overdo it.

On the other hand, dehydration can also negatively impact your performance. When you’re dehydrated, your body has a harder time regulating its temperature, which can lead to overheating. Dehydration can also cause fatigue, dizziness, and muscle cramps, all of which can hinder your ability to perform at your best.

To ensure you’re properly hydrated before a race, aim to drink enough water throughout the day leading up to the event. Don’t wait until the last minute to start hydrating, as this can lead to overhydration. Keep track of your urine colour – it should be a pale yellow colour, indicating that you’re properly hydrated.

During the race, it’s important to drink water at regular intervals to maintain hydration levels. However, be careful not to drink too much water too quickly, as this can lead to overhydration. It’s also a good idea to drink a sports drink that contains electrolytes to help replace the sodium and other minerals lost through sweat.

In summary, proper hydration is key to performing your best in a race. Avoid overhydrating or dehydrating by drinking enough water throughout the day leading up to the event and drinking water and sports drinks at regular intervals during the race.

4. Ignoring Rest and Sleep

As we prepare for a race, it can be tempting to push ourselves to the limit with training and preparation. However, one of the worst things we can do before a race is to ignore the importance of rest and sleep.

Sleep is essential for our bodies to recover and repair from the physical stress of training. Without enough sleep, our bodies will struggle to perform at their best during the race. Lack of sleep can also lead to increased stress and anxiety, which can negatively impact our performance.

To ensure we are well-rested before a race, we should aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night in the week leading up to the event. It is also important to avoid staying up late the night before the race, as this can disrupt our sleep schedule and leave us feeling tired and groggy on race day.

In addition to getting enough sleep, we should also make time for rest and relaxation in the days leading up to the race. This can include taking rest days from training, practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, and avoiding stressful situations.

By prioritising rest and sleep in our race preparation, we can ensure that our bodies are ready to perform at their best on race day.

5. Disregarding Weather Conditions

As runners, we all know the importance of checking the weather forecast before a race. However, it’s surprising how many of us still disregard this crucial piece of information.

Ignoring weather conditions can have serious consequences on race day. For example, if it’s going to be hot and sunny, we need to make sure we’re properly hydrated and wearing appropriate clothing. On the other hand, if it’s going to be cold and rainy, we need to make sure we have warm and waterproof gear.

One way to avoid disregarding weather conditions is to plan ahead. Check the forecast a few days before the race and adjust your training accordingly. If it’s going to be hot, try to do your runs early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s cooler. If it’s going to be cold, make sure you’re doing your runs in similar weather conditions to prepare your body.

Another way to prepare for weather conditions is to pack a bag with all the necessary gear. This could include a rain jacket, gloves, hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. By having everything in one place, we can avoid forgetting something important on race day.

In conclusion, disregarding weather conditions can have serious consequences on race day. By planning ahead and packing a bag with all the necessary gear, we can ensure that we’re properly prepared for any weather conditions that come our way.

About Me

Hey, I'm Mark and I've been running for around eight years. I'm by no means an elite runner. I'm in the mid-pack, doing what I can to improve and learn along the way.

I've learnt a few tricks along the which I share on this website and my Instagram: