Austin Sports Medicine: Tips for Preparing for a Race from Medicine in Motion

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The Austin sports medicine doctors at Medicine in Motion have put together a list of essential pre-race tips for day-before preparation.

Austin Sports Medicine - Medicine in Motion

Austin Sports Medicine - Medicine in Motion

Every day leading up to the event is important, but the day before is perhaps the most crucial.

Runners often train for months in preparation for a major race or marathon run. Every day leading up to the event is important, but the day before is perhaps the most crucial. In general what people eat, drink and how they treat themselves one day often has a profound effect on the body during the following day. To help runners make certain there are no hiccups on race day, here are some tips from the Austin sports medicine doctors at Medicine in Motion on what to do the day before:

1. Eat Plenty of Carbohydrates - As should have been the case in the days leading up to the run, eat about 65-70% of total calories from carbs. Don't eat too much, though (or at dinner the night before) - ingest the same amount of food that is normal.

2. Avoid Any Unusual Foods - Stick with foods that have worked well before and during training runs. If eating away from home, make sure the restaurant serves something comparable to a typical training diet.

3. Stay Hydrated - Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If hydrating properly, urine should be light yellow. Runners can also have one sports drink, to make sure they’re getting some extra electrolytes. Avoid alcohol altogether as it leads to dehydration.

4. Don't Overdo It - Stay off the feet, rest and relax. When going to the race expo to pick up the race packet, don't spend hours walking around, attending clinics, and eating free food samples. Spending too much time on one’s feet will lead to fatigue, and hanging around big crowds at the expo may get an athlete nervous about the race. When there is a need to walk around, make sure comfortable shoes are worn.

5. Go For a Short Run, If You Need It - No fitness will be lost by resting the day before a half or full marathon. But if a runner typically gets pre-race anxiety, or if there’s a need to stay loose, it might be beneficial to do a slow, 20-minute run the day before. If running, keep thoughts positive. Whatever is done, make sure to avoid a significant workout that's going to impart fatigue or soreness the next day.

6. Make Sure Toenails are Trimmed - Check toenails and clip any that are too long. Keeping toenails neat and short will prevent them from hitting the front of the running shoes, which can lead to bloody or black toenails.

7. Get Your Clothing and Gear Ready - Lay out all clothing and gear for the race the night before. Essential items include:
a. Race bib (number) and safety pins
b. Race timing chip (if it's not part of your race bib)
c. Running outfit, hat, shoes and socks
d. Wristwatch
e. Race fuels, such as energy gels
f. A product to prevent chafing, such as petroleum jelly or Body Glide
g. Sunscreen

8. Stay Relaxed - Use visualization techniques while relaxing during the day. Envision the course. Think positively about all the work that’s gone into training.

9. Plan Breakfast - Make sure all breakfast needs are ready. Don't assume that certain foods will be available at the race start - it's better to be prepared and already have the necessary food. Eat foods that have previously been tried before long training runs.

10. Get Inspired - Watch a movie or read a book that is inspiring.

11. Don't Stress About Lack of Sleep - Don't worry if sleep is a problem the night preceding the half or full marathon; many people don’t sleep well the night before. One sleepless night is very unlikely to hurt performance. The excitement and adrenaline rush from race day will give runners enough energy for the race.

12. Plan to Get Up Early - Set the alarm clock and double check it. Leave plenty of time to get ready, eat breakfast, and get to the race start early. If staying in a hotel, request a wake-up call, just to be safe.

Medicine in Motion (MIM) specializes in providing top quality sports medicine healthcare in Austin, Texas, for athletic individuals of all ages and levels. The doctors at MIM believe active bodies are healthy bodies, therefore it is the office's goal to keep patients energetic and fit. To that end, MIM provides treatment of injuries and illnesses, including the use of physical rehabilitation; promotes healthy living with personal training and nutrition coaching; and offers comprehensive sports medicine evaluations to optimize health, activity level and sports performance. For more information or for questions regarding sports medicine in Austin, contact Medicine in Motion at 512-257-2500 or visit the website at

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Daniel Harvell
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