Race day dos and don’ts from R4W Race Director & double Olympian

ABP Newport Marathon Festival | NEWPORT, WALES

It’s just days to go until the first event in the Run 4 Wales race calendar – the ABP Newport Marathon Festival – kicks off, and the start-line nerves and excitement will be starting to creep in.

While all your training preparation should now be complete, there’s still some important things to keep in mind come race day.

Here, Run 4 Wales Race Director, Steve Brace, who is a double Olympian and former winner of the Paris and Berlin Marathons, shares his last minute dos and don’ts ahead of the event:  

Do eat a normal breakfast: Don’t eat anything you haven’t tried before on the morning of your race as it could cause an upset stomach (this also goes for any mid-race fuel too). While you want to have some food that is high in carbs to keep your glycogen levels topped up, be careful not to overeat as it can leave you feeling heavy and sluggish at the start line. Likewise, despite any nerves, don’t undereat either as it’s important you have enough fuel in your body. It’s also best to leave a two-hour gap between eating and your run for optimum energy levels, as your body diverts blood to the stomach and away from your muscles while digesting (although timing can vary between individuals).

Don’t wear any new kit: Make sure you’ve tried and tested your kit ahead of race day. While you may want to save your best kit for the event, now is not the time to wear anything for the first time (especially trainers and socks) as you don’t know if they’ll be comfortable and they could cause rubbing and blisters, slip on your heel or pinch your toes.

Do check the weather: Knowing what the weather conditions will be can help you to plan what to wear on race day and ensure you have suitable kit with you. As the ABP Newport Marathon Festival is in April the weather can be temperamental and can bring anything from glorious sunshine to cold, rain and wind. Bringing an old jumper to wear in your start pen which you can leave behind to donate to charity can help keep you warm pre-race, or if it’s wet, wearing a bin bag, with holes cut for your arms and head, can help keep you dry – although please make sure you dispose of these carefully so they don’t get caught up in other runners’ feet. Keep in mind that you may need suncream and sunglasses or even a hat and gloves to make your run more comfortable depending on the weather.

Don’t drink too much water: Race day nerves can often leave us reaching for the water – but while it’s important that you’re hydrated, and maintain hydration during the race, be mindful not to overdrink by gulping down litres of water. Too much water can not only increase the likelihood of needing to add toilet stops during your run, but it also brings the risk of diluting the sodium levels in your blood, which can be dangerous – particularly when you’ll also be losing this through sweat too. Carb drinks could also be a good option as they will be full of the electrolytes your body needs.

Don’t forget to warm up: Take time to thoroughly stretch and loosen up if you are used to doing so. You will save hours of recovery from injury later and the quality of your running will improve. A few limbering movements to stretch the hamstrings and calfs, rotating the hips and generally gearing yourself up for sustained physical activity should do the job.

Do run your own race: When the starting gun fires it’s easy to get swept up with the crowd as you start running, but it’s important to remember your pacing strategy (you could write your splits on your hand or make sure you stick to a pacer from your pen) and not start off too quickly. Doing so will increase the risk of becoming more tired later on, throwing your timings plans away. That being said, if you start off according to plan and feel as if you have more to give in the second half of your race, go for it. The courses in Newport are famed for the fast and flat routes and you may even secure yourself a PB.

Do remember your why: While running there may be difficult times during the event when you think you need to stop or can’t go on. In these times you need to dig deep and try to remember your ‘why’. Go through all your reasons for signing up for the race and why you wanted to take part to help spur you on to the finish line.

Do have fun: Whatever happens on the day, remember to have fun and enjoy the experience. You’ve spent months training for this day and all your hard work is worth celebrating. So, soak in the race atmosphere, enjoy the course entertainment and smile for the cameras.