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What to Do on Race Morning


After months of training, your alarm goes off and it’s race morning! Time is ticking and you’re just moments away from your goal run. Keep your morning stress-free and set yourself up for success with these nine tips as you head to the start line.

A woman is standing outside near a parking lot. She is wearing black running shorts and a green long sleeve shirt. She has a bib pinned to her shirt and she is holding white headphone in one hand.

Now that you’ve had a successful training cycle and have prepared during race week, it’s finally race morning. Whether you’re an experienced or new runner, there are some key things to do before the gun goes off. Here are nine reminders that will help keep you calm and crush your run.

What to Do on Race Morning:

Wake up early

First of all, no one wants to oversleep on race morning and feel rushed. Set multiple alarms the night before your run and get up as soon as the first one goes off. Once you’re awake, get started on your morning routine.

Eat breakfast

Even if you’re feeling queasy from the nerves, eat breakfast! Being properly fueled heading into a race, especially for distances like the half and full marathon, will have a significant impact on your performance and how you feel as the race progresses.

Additionally, keep in mind that you want to leave enough time between eating breakfast and running so your food can digest. For a marathon, consider having your breakfast finished about two hours before you start running.

Related: Fueling for Running: How to Fuel and Why It’s Important

Nine bagels are on a grey countertop. Some are cut in half, while others aren't. Some are plain bagels, others are everything bagels. Bagels are a perfect breakfast to eat on race morning.

Use the bathroom

Well, it’s the elephant in the room – most people, if not all, hope to use the bathroom on race morning. Because you’ve woken up early enough, spend some time quietly sitting, possibly with coffee, to get things moving.

If you aren’t able to have a bowel movement before leaving your home or hotel, try again once you’ve gotten to the race.

Don’t forget body glide

Without a doubt, no one wants to deal with chaffing on race day. Whether you feel it while you’re running or not until you hop in the shower, the stinging and burning pain is very much unwanted!

To avoid chaffing, lather Body Glide on any part of you where clothing typically rubs. For example, this could be on your inner thighs, lower back, arms, and underneath your sports bra.

Nothing new on race morning

Moreover, not only do runners not want chafing, they don’t want ANY surprises during a race! To avoid unwanted surprises, follow the rule, “Nothing new on race day”. This means no new shoes, articles of clothing, fuel… Everything you wear, eat, or do on race day should be something you’ve practiced during your training, works with your body, and is part of your routine.

Related: Best Gear for Beginner Runners

Do a head-to-toe body scan

Furthermore, as you’re leaving your home or hotel room, do a full body scan. Start at your head and move all the way down to your feet. Do you have a hat, your bib pinned to your shirt, and your racing shoes?

Also, think about things you might need while running, such as headphones, sunglasses, fuel, a water bottle, and salt tablets.

This Race Weekend Checklist takes the stress out of packing!

Related: The Ultimate Marathon Checklist: Must-Haves for Strong Race

Warm up

Depending on your plan and the distance of your race, you may or may not have a running warmup. Typically, the shorter the race, the longer the warmup. If you’re running a marathon, it’s likely you may not have a warmup. Save your legs for the race!

Even if you’re not doing a running warmup, don’t neglect any glute activation exercises or a dynamic warmup routine. If your body is used to doing exercises like leg swings, high knees, and clamshells before running, be sure to do them before you start.

Related: Glue Activation Warm Up – 5 Best Exercises and Benefits for Runners.

Smile and think positively

If you have friends, family, or coworkers either running with you or cheering, try to gather with them before you start. Being in good company will take your mind off the race and hopefully calm any nerves.

Furthermore, think about how you’re going to celebrate after the run! For instance, are you getting together with friends? Going out to eat? Whatever it is, envision yourself at your celebration smiling, donning your medal, and feeling proud of your accomplishment.

Three women are standing on a grassy area by the starting line of a road race on race morning. There are other runners and porta potties in the background. The women are smiling and looking at the camera, and they all have lime green bibs pinned to their shirts.

Seed yourself correctly

Finally, as you’re lining up on the starting line, be sure to seed yourself correctly based on your estimated pace or finish time. Ideally, you start the race with other runners who are about the same speed as you.

If you do not seed yourself correctly, it’s possible you may end up either running too fast in the beginning or weaving in and out of people who are moving slower than you.

What to Do on Race Morning Recap:

All in all, the goal of race morning is to get yourself to the starting line fueled, excited, and ready to go. Ideally, try to keep the number of tasks to a minimum. Prepare and plan ahead as much as you can during race week so race morning can run as smoothly as possible.

  1. Wake up early
  2. Eat breakfast
  3. Use the bathroom
  4. Don’t forget body glide
  5. Nothing new on race morning
  6. Do a head-to-toe body scan
  7. Warm up
  8. Smile and think positively
  9. Seed yourself correctly

Interested in Working with Elizabeth?

I would love to help you reach your running goals! Email me at [email protected] or check out my Run Coaching Services page to learn more.

Comment Below:

What is something you do every morning before a race?

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