The sixth and final episode in this instructional running video series takes us to the races and offers tips and suggestions for making the most of your race day experience.

Racing is the culmination of many weeks and months of running and training. For more on the most important types of training that will get you ready to run and race at your best, check out the complete series of videos:

RELATED: MEC Running video series: Episode 1 – Tempo Runs

RELATED: MEC Running video series: Episode 2 – Hills

RELATED: MEC Running video series: Episode 3 – Speedwork

RELATED: MEC Running video series: Episode 4The Long Run

RELATED: MEC Running video series: Episode 5 – Strength and Cross-Training

MEC race series race day start

Here are a number of tips you should consider in order to improve your chances for race-day success.

Before the race

  • Rest and recover. Regardless of distance, you want to go into a race feeling rested and recovered. Take a few days off before, minimize your mileage and run easy the week of the race.
  • Be well fuelled. For a half-marathon or anything longer, you’ll want to consider carb-loading. For shorter races, it’s still important to eat on the morning of the race. In all cases, being properly hydrated is essential.
  • Allow yourself lots of time. Get up early, have everything ready— shoes, clothes (with bib attached), GPS/watch, fuel, etc.—including a plan for getting to the start.
  • Warm-up. Even if very briefly, make sure you do some dynamic stretches and a few strides to get the body primed to run. Don’t start the race cold or stiff.
  • Line up according to your ability. Be realistic and don’t go right to the front if you don’t belong there. Talk to other runners and find those who have similar goals as you do.
  • Have a race strategy. Most people have a pretty good sense of what they hope to do in terms of finish time and pacing. Plan this in advance and run your own race.

During the race

  • Try not to go out too fast at the start. Gaining a few seconds at the start will only come back to cost you later on.
  • Find a rhythm or flow. Some kilometers will be faster or slower than others but focus on keeping an even effort.
  • Execute your fuelling plan by taking energy and re-hydrating as necessary.
  • When you’re feeling good, harness and hold on to that feeling. When it starts to feel tough, try distracting yourself by focusing on the environment around you.
  • Develop a mantra to get you through the toughest parts of the race. Look back to your training and remember that you’re ready and able to do this.

After the race

  • Refuel immediately. The same goes for hydration. Be sure to get some carbs and protein within an hour or so of racing to kick start the recovery process. Drink water and electrolytes to replace lost fluids (then celebrate with a beer or glass of wine later).
  • Rest and reciver. Racing is a stressful stimulus that requires time to recover. The general rule is one day off (or easy) for every 2-3K raced.
  • Reflect. Perhaps you did exactly what you set out to do. Or maybe you just fell short. Either way, take some time to look back on the race and try to take away a few positives while also noting what you can do better the next time.
  • Celebrate your accomplishment and then start to plan for your next one.

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