From my experience of racing (i.e. running and obstacle races) I have noted a number of mistakes. Because I am not perfect, I have even done a few myself:
Drinking the night before
This might seem an obvious mistake, but at nearly every obstacle race I have seen someone do this.
I find this surprising because if you read the philosophy of races such as the Spartan race, you would understand that they pride themselves on being self-disciplined, making lifestyle change and maintaining a regular fitness routine.
So I was shocked from seeing and talking to a number of racers who had been out drinking the night before.
There were a number of stag do’s who were treating it as something to complement a boozy night. Some were even having a pre-race smoke!
These people struggle, coughing up a lung near the back of the wave – the only exception I have seen to this rule was a 6ft 4 marine who had been drinking to the early hours of the morning. The last I saw of him was storming up the rope climb. Most do not have the endurance for punishment that a marine has though!
Changing diet before race day
During a 10k warm-up I overheard the complaints of a girl who felt sick during the pre-race warm up.
Her mistake? She had eaten porridge before race-day, despite never having this normally. Either she got her portion sizes wrong or the blandness of porridge disagreed with her (even I add a bit of syrup to help it go down).
I would say stick to your normal diet or make changes weeks or months before a race so you get used to exercising with something else in your system.
This includes supplements – quite often on a race day people will try things they don’t normally have such as energy gels. There is nothing worse than something that leaves a foul taste in the mouth, feeling thirsty or worse of all causes diarrhea because you don’t know the side effects on your own body!
Quite often races will have sponsors who gives out free samples – I recommend sticking to your own tried and tested supplements and trying the free samples another day!
A week before any race I always take it easier. I go to the gym and have a few short runs to keep the lungs and limbs a bit loose, but the purpose of this week is not to make any final gains.
I have made the mistake of leaving things till the last minute – so push myself too hard. This did not cause any last minute improvements, I was just tired on race day.
If you have not achieved your intention (i.e. ran the required distance) it is way too late the week before. Just keep yourself active and on race day pace yourself and hope for the best.
Drinking Caffenine Energy Drinks
I am a drinker of caffeine energy drinks. Or at least I was – I have cut down and every so often when I am at work doing my desk job, have one to keep my mind active.
But I have never used them as a fitness aid before a race or workout. The reason is that energy drinks are full of sugar and only have a short term impact.
Ever had an energy drink and felt that crash where you were even more tired than before you drank the energy drink? That is that sugar spike wearing off – I would never want to create that sensation in a race.
Another thing with energy drinks is they are very sickly to run with – they are very gassy and cause bloating. Not what you want before racing – stick to water.
Lack of location preparation
I wrote about a run that I did and I was very unprepared – I only looked at where I was supposed to be going the night before (and didn’t really study it in detail). I had no idea the direction I was going in and had not anticipated the poor parking facilities. This was not very good in keeping my focus on the race and at the end I even lost my car because I forgot where I parked it!
Running the race is hard enough, therefore spend some time looking at the location – what is the best route? Is there parking? How much is it? Are there any other facilities that make life easier (eg lockers?).
These are my race day mistakes? Are there any other suggestions?