What To Expect On Race Day…

Photo by Peter Boccia on Unsplash

Participating in a run/walk race event is an exciting experience. Here are some things to expect on race day.

Packet pick-up

The larger events usually begin with an expo sometime before the day of the event. The expo is an event in itself, and is where you will receive your event packet containing your race bib, t-shirt, chip timer, and other vendor related coupons, swag, and advertisements. Picking up your packet is a conformation that you will be at the starting line on race day, and your name is now officially in the system as a participant. If you have yet to do so, you can enter the event at this time.

The expo is also the place to find finalized race details and ask any questions that may have come up. Information on start times, parking, shuttle service, and the course map itself will be available. This is also an opportunity to browse the pre-race vendors displays and purchase any necessities such as t-shirts, sunglasses, gloves, or even partake at the oxygen bar if one is available. Double check to make sure you have your chip timer, bib, and four safety pins before leaving the expo.

Before the starting line

Race day is going to begin with an early wake up. It is important to go about a normal routine, so make sure to get up early and have your typical breakfast. Use the bathroom before leaving for the event, and leave with enough time to arrive at least an hour before your race start time. Plan on delays such as closed roads, traffic re-direction, traffic congestion, and crowds in general. Dress in layers so that you can remove clothing as the temperature warms. Parking will generally be far from the starting line, and this walk will help with a general warmup of your legs.

If there was no race expo for the event, packet pick-up will be available at this time. Some events may allow you to enter now if you did not pre-register. But make sure you know this beforehand.

At the starting line

Before you line up for the start of the event, check any gear you no longer need at the gear check area, if available. This is also a good time to use the bathroom one last time if necessary. When lining up at the start corral, be sure to line up according to the pace you plan on running or walking. This helps with crowd control on the course in an attempt to alleviate congestion of faster runners trying to pass slower runners. The pace will be identified with a sign in the start corral.

At this time, check your bib and make sure it is secured at all four corners. This will keep the wind from blowing the bib up and will maximize your aerodynamics. At most events, the chip timer that records your progress is contained in the bib. If it’s not in the bib, it will be something you attach to your shoe laces. Be sure this chip is present, secure, and ready to go. Next will be the singing of the National Anthem, and then the firing of the starting gun.

On the course

Regardless of when the gun goes off, your time for the event you registered for will begin when your timing chip crosses the start line. This doesn’t mean you can go grab a nap or a bite to eat, because there is a time limit from when the gun goes off and when your chip crosses the start line. Enjoy the adrenaline rush of the other competitors around you, but resist the temptation to push harder than you can sustain. Revert back to your training, and fall into a comfortable pace to begin using your race strategy.

Most events have participants of different race distances, so there will be walkers and runners moving at different speeds everywhere around you. Be aware of your surroundings. Make sure it is clear to pass or even clear to slow to a walk or a stop if need be. Depending on the race distance, most events have aid stations every two miles staffed with volunteers. These stations have various things such as water, electrolyte drinks, fruit, etc. The event would not be possible without these volunteers who hand out water and snacks, and clean up after the participants. This is another spot where it is important to be aware of your surroundings to avoid contact with other runners and walkers. There will also be portable bathrooms throughout the course and first aid support as well.

There are other things to be aware of on the course. Some events allow strollers and pets. Most events have event monitors on bicycles, and police sometimes patrol the course on motorcycle. The course is closed to traffic, however, traffic crossings are common but are controlled by police. Be sure to follow signs, cones, and cross any appropriate progress lines to avoid disqualification. On some trail runs, it is easy to get lost if you’re not paying attention to all the route markers along the way.

At the finish line

The finish line is an exciting place. It is also another place where congestion is common. Volunteers will be handing out completion medals and bottles of water. This is also a common area to link up with friends and family members. Enjoy the vendors that have set up for the event, and look out for any free swag being handed out. Most people don’t stay long post race, but there is usually an awards ceremony for the top finishers in each category. Before leaving the event, be sure to pick up your gear from the gear check area.

Later in the day, be sure and check the event website to see your official results. Reflect on your race performance. Could it have been better? Think about what you would change next time. While you’re at it, sign up for your next race and set a goal to make it an even better experience!

The 11 Steps to Take to Implement and Maximize Your Fitness, Part 1

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.”

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Fitness is paramount to a healthy life. It effects our physical health, our mental health, our attitude, our opinion of ourselves, our confidence, the daily choices we make, our long-term choices, goals, abilities, and more. Fitness makes us better human beings, because it has so many positive results.

Many people embrace their fitness and work on it daily. Others want to be fit but don’t know where to start. Whether it is a fear of failure, intimidation, or belief that it is unobtainable, anyone can take the following steps to get on the path of gaining fitness:

  1. Decide on your why
  2. Track your food intake
  3. Begin a stretching routine
  4. Block out a time and place for exercise
  5. Begin a walking routine
  6. Set a goal
  7. Start an exercise log
  8. Begin to change food habits
  9. Find a community
  10. Research exercises or types of exercise that interest you
  11. Gradually accumulate equipment
Photo by Ryan Cheng on Unsplash

1. Decide on your why

With everything we do, there is a reason, or why, to motivate us to do things. Why do we wake up to the sound of an annoying alarm clock? To get to work on time. Why do we go to work? To earn money to make a living. Why do we eat a meal? To provide energy to sustain life.

Take a long hard look at the benefits of fitness that are listed above. Think about them. How would you benefit from an increase in your fitness? How would you benefit from better health? Increased confidence? Increased physical ability?

Decide on two or three of these benefits that are most important to you and write them down. Put them on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Tell people about them. Post them on your social media accounts. This may even help someone else by motivating them to think about their own health and fitness.

Congratulations! You’ve taken the most important initial step to improve your health! Whenever you’re feeling tired, discouraged, or apathetic (and you will), use your why to maintain your purpose and motivation.


2. Track your food intake

Fitness requires nutrition. The quality and quantity of the food we eat is the foundation of our physical being. Relate food to medicine. Different medicines have different effects on our cells, hormones, organs, and body overall. Food is no different. We take it in, and it affects our cells, hormones, organs, and body overall as well. Depending on our needs, medicine can help us, or harm us. Again, just like medicine, food falls into this as well.

Get into the habit of tracking your daily food intake. There are many apps that are easy to use to help with this task. You can also use software like a spreadsheet, or just use a pen and notebook. Any of these options are effective. The goal here is to be able to analyze what you eat, when, and how much. Track the calorie count and macronutrients (grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat) for everything. This information can easily be found on the internet. Be honest with serving sizes. This information will only benefit you in the long run.

Using a food log takes a lot of work. At first. The more you work on it, the easier it gets. This is because you will begin to notice patterns and will get faster at entering your food. You will also begin to have an awareness and visual record of what you are, and are not taking in. It will be easier to make necessary changes as you progress. And you will also be able to relate how you feel with what you eat.


3. Begin a stretching routine

Now that you have your why in mind, and you’re compiling food intake data, it is time to get physical. It is time to start a stretching routine. This is a simple step that should be incorporated daily. We want a full body stretch routine at the least. This should take about fifteen or twenty minutes and should be performed after exercising, or after the body is warm. Stretching is not recommended when the body is cold or has been inactive.

If you’re unsure how to stretch, or what stretches to do, YouTube is a great resource for this. Search for full body stretches, and additional stretches for any body part that gives you extra trouble. You can also choose to do a quick, full body yoga routine.

Stretching teaches us to maintain and take care of our body. It helps loosen tight muscles, scar tissue, and stiff tendons. It promotes circulation and helps mobilize waste products out of the tissues. It is also a healthy way to get into a habit of daily physical activity.


4. Block out a time and place for exercise

When I first began working out, I set up an 8′ x 12′ piece of carpet in my basement. I used this as my workout area for the body weight exercises that I was doing at the time. I had a television and VCR set up for workout videos. And it wasn’t long until I mounted a pull-up bar and a set of dip bars as well. I even ended up dragging a treadmill down the stairs and running in the basement!

It was great. I had my dedicated spot for working out and would work out when I got home from work. Without thinking, I had accomplished ‘blocking out a time and place for exercise.’

This is your next step. Be deliberate about this so you can commit to the time and place as you fit it into your schedule. If you’re the typical overly-busy person, you will need to make a decision to make this time a priority so you can accomplish your fitness.

Photo by Frank McKenna on Unsplash

This is part one of a three part series. In less than thirty minutes, you can start these four steps today. Put them on your to do list under priority one. Tackle them and check them off. Then, be ready for part two of this series.

Re-read the steps above. Which do you think will be the hardest to implement?