Race Day Rookies... We've Got You Covered

by Our Favorite Boilermaker Running Veterans

Christmas …er, I mean…. Boilermaker is coming! With less than two weeks until the big 15K race in Utica, we polled some of our staff and runner friends for their top tips for first-time racers. Some of these tips come from people who have been running the Boilermaker for many years. We heard a lot of the same advice from many of them… which must mean it’s good! Take a look at our general race day top tips below, then keep reading for some tips that are just for the Boilermaker. While you’re at it, take a look at the pics they’ve shared - proof that this race (and the after party!) is as fun as it gets!

Race Day Top Tips:

-Resist the temptation to go out too fast; start conservatively. Almost everyone we talked to gave this advice! The struggle is real. You’re going to feel jazzed up and excited. The crowd will be moving in that first mile and your endorphins will be kicking into high gear. It can be tempting to “go with the flow,” but you want to be careful not to start too fast or you might burn out too soon. Boilermaker is 15K long with some decent hills. Start smart so you can finish strong.

-Nutrition: Everyone has different advice here, so your best bet is to do what works for you! A good, concrete rule of thumb: Two hours before the gun goes off, be done eating (and hopefully done…ummm…the “opposite of eating” before the race starts!). In general, eat a normal breakfast, but maybe go a little light. Don’t eat too heavy the night before or too close to race time, but you also don’t want to go in there with an empty stomach. This starts a few days out. Think about what you’re eating and plan ahead. Some of our friends suggest a little carbo loading a day or two before the race. Make Friday your race day meal! Race morning, don’t stray too far from your normal routine. If you normally eat a banana and English muffin with peanut butter before a long run, don’t go for 5 eggs scrambled with hot sauce and a side of bacon…. even if that’s what your friends are doing. You’ve got to do what works for you.

-Have fun, always. And be friendly. Runners are some of the best people on this planet. Encourage other runners and thank the people cheering for you! Some of our friends recommend high-fiving some cheering kids along the way. High fives from cheering kids have actual* magic power for an extra energy boost (*this is an actual, medical fact 😉)!

-Watch your hydration. Don’t drink *too* much water before you run, but make sure you’re well hydrated the week leading up to the race and including race day. Keep those electrolytes in balance, too. Race day can be hot, and a lot of the run is in full sun. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and get to the start line early enough to wait in line for the port-a-potties!

-Don’t run in new equipment (clothing and socks included!). Our friends suggest that you run in your outfit before race day, this includes top, bottoms, sports bra, socks, shoes, sunglasses, belt, water bottle, headband, hat, headphones, etc. You want to be in a good quality apparel, starting with your socks and all the way up to your noggin!

-Get your legs warm and stretch ahead of time. Some of the runners we know like to do a nice warm up or shakeout. Some do some active stretching. On a related note, don’t run too much or too hard the days leading up to your race. The hay is in the barn, so they say. You want those legs rested!

-Gum- This one’s up for debate (and don’t try it if you haven’t before!), but one of our favorite runners says, “I like to chew gum…but that’s weird so don’t say that!”.

-Don’t doubt your ability. Trust your training. Everything you need is already there and the only thing stopping you is from the shoulders up! Don’t pay attention to anyone else’s “plan.” This is *your* race and your day! You do you, my friend!

-Sunblock. Remember you’ll be in full sun while you wait for the race to start, while you run, and while you’re enjoying the after party. Make sure you wear the kind of sunscreen that lets your pores breathe!

-Chaffing. Right? How about some Body Glide. This goes along with running in that race day outfit ahead of time. Anywhere you might have some rubbing or irritation, Body Glide is your friend! Think feet, thighs, around your sports bra or other bands, behind your arms, etc.

-*Try* to get a good night’s sleep, but don’t stress about it. We wouldn’t recommend pulling an all-nighter or partying the night before…try to put your feet up and relax. Some people get nervous, anxious, or just too excited to get a good night’s sleep right before a big race. No worries! Think about getting good sleep for the entire week leading up to the race, and just do your best the night before.

-Etiquette: If you need to pass someone and don’t want to startle them, a friendly, “On your left!” works great. If you need to stop and take a walking break, don’t stop suddenly in front of someone. If you’re running with friends – awesome! But don’t run more than two abreast. This makes it difficult for people to get around you.

-Can you handle “The Pain Cave”? The mind is stronger than the body. When you’re feeling the intensity, drive through it and don’t give up! Don’t talk yourself out of it. Some of this comes down to hydration and nutrition. You need to make sure your body is fueled or you’ll be quicker to give into the negative thoughts. Running with a friend can help too!!!

If this is your first Boilermaker…

-Check out the course maps ahead of time. Most of the course is drive-able, too. Pay attention to elevation changes so you know what to expect and when to expect it. Have a plan for your pacing that takes into consideration when you can pick up the tempo and when you might need to slow down a bit. Got a Garmin? You can program most watches ahead of time to help you with this! Contact us for help with this if you need it.

-Make sure to look up into the golf course as you’re entering Valley View. You’ll see this incredible sea of people up the hill to the right. It’s unreal! Bonus: When you’re at the top of the golf course and look down, you get the same view in reverse!

-The cheering crowd for our hometown race is like no other. You will be spoiled with cheers and signs, music and dancing, and much more! There are performances and dancers and even a cool guy on stilts! Enjoy it!

-Make sure you have planned a meeting place ahead of time with your friends and family, especially if you run without carrying a cellphone. The crowd is thick at the after party.

-At the finish line, keep moving! Keep walking and you’ll find water, snacks, and treats. If you need medical help (we hope you don’t!) make sure to tell a volunteer right away.

-If you’re coming from out of town and forgot something, no worries! Stop by our booth at the Boilermaker Expo or visit us at The Sneaker Store on Friday or Saturday before the race. We’re happy to help you!!!

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What did we forget? We’d love to see your comments with your own race tips!