5 Things You Should Know Before Your First Race!

What’s the key to running like a champion (or, to put it another way, just getting to the finish line in the first place)? There are a few simple ways to improve your running technique, and who better to share them than former professional runner Ryan Hall, who holds the U.S. half marathon record? In preparation for the upcoming New York City Marathon on November 5, the current athletics coach and Fitbit ambassador offers the following advice:

1.Set several alarms

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scheduled a wake-up call in a hotel only to have it never arrive. I’ve also slept through my phone alarm on occasion, so set multiple alarms the night before the race. My favorite alarm on my Fitbit Ionic vibrates to wake me up, which is much gentler than loud alarms, and it always wakes me up.

2.Consume coffee or caffeine, but not too soon before your race

Caffeine is undeniably a performance-enhancing stimulant, but it must be used with caution. If you consume caffeine too soon before your race, you will be at your peak energy level while driving to the race. We want to time when caffeine is at its peak energy-boosting effect, as well as when caffeine is diuretic, to ensure that excess water and food waste are removed from your system. So, 75 minutes before the race, drink your coffee or take your caffeine.

3. Avoid high-fiber foods the day before and the day of your race

I know this goes against what a nutritionist would advise you to eat on a daily basis, but on the day before and day of the race, avoid high fiber foods such as salads, vegetables, bran cereals, and high fiber breads and pastas. Avoid beans and red meat as well because they take longer to digest. We want simple, bland, boring food the day before and day of a race so we don’t have stomach issues or have to stop every mile for porter johns.

4.Allow your heart to guide you

I’d estimate that 95 percent of first-time racers start too fast, but in today’s technological world, this should never be the case. Use your smartwatch, such as a Fitbit model, to track your heart rate fluctuations in real time without having to wear an inconvenient strap around your chest. You simply run at the heart rate that you know you can maintain for the duration of the race if you have been paying attention to your heart rate in training (which you should). There is no guessing involved.

5. Don’t overthink things

I believe that many runners overthink things. I’m a big believer in going out there and keeping things simple. “Have fun and run hard,” I tell myself. I know I’ll have a successful race if I do these two things.