Race Week Tips

5K Race Week Tips

You did it, you made it to the final stretch! The hard part is over, now its smooth sailing to the start line. Whether it’s your first or tenth race, preparing the week of your 5K race is similar. The best way to settle race nerves is to take control of everything you’re able to.  

Follow these race week tips to get to the start line fresh and ready! 

  • TAPER: Tapering is a running term which means to slowly decrease your running volume (mileage). Begin this tapering process about 7-10 days prior to a 5K race by shortening your runs by 30-50%. This allows you to be well-rested and primed for race day. 
  • HYDRATE: Be sure to sip water throughout the days leading up to your race. You need to be hydrated on race day which happens over time, not just consuming water that morning! Always have a bottle of water in your bag, in your car, and on your desk this week.   
  • KNOW YOUR ROUTE: If you’re running an in-person 5K, look at the race website for their race map. Know the parking situation, where your spectators will be, and the locations of all the porta-johns and fueling stations. If you’re running a virtual race, map out your running route to know exactly where you need to circle back or make your turns. You don’t want to be running more or less than the 3.1 miles! Write down your turn list in your phone or on a piece of paper for easy access. 
  • STICK TO FAMILIAR FOODS: This week is not the week to try out a different type of food, drink, smoothie combination, or sport drink. You want your stomach to be comfortable with your usual food choice.  
  • CARB LOADING? We have all probably heard of carb loading with a pasta party before a big race… this is NOT the case for the 5K distance. For a 5K, it’s likely that you have enough fuel in your muscles—from a healthy prerace meal—to race your best without risking running out of energy. If you attempt to carb-load before a 5K, you’ll end up with lots of calories that you don’t need, which could make you feel bloated, nauseous, and feeling like you have heavy legs by the time the starting gun fires. 
  • REFLECT ON YOUR TRAINING: Look back or think about the weeks of training that you put into this race. Reflect on the major milestones you’ve already accomplished, the first time you finished a mile or your speed workouts. Trust the training!  

Now, take a deep breath. You trained for this, you’re ready! 

Written By: Bethann Wittig 
Rutgers Recreation Fitness & Personal Training Coordinator
RRCA Running Coach; NASM-CPT