Traveling for Race Day: 4 tips to feel your best
By Heather Ahlgren, ambassador Je Cours Qc.
My favourite way of exploring a new city has always been through running. It provides a unique perspective of each neighbourhood that can only be had in a pair of running shoes. New terrain, new people, new energy; traveling for a race makes the experience that much more special.
Through trial and error, I’ve found that there are a few key factors that I can control during travel so that my body feels best for race day. Read on for my tips for getting the most out of your destination race.
- Arrive early, leave late
Travel is stressful. Races are stressful. In order to mitigate the travel stress, I like to arrive at my destination a couple nights before the main event whenever possible. Especially for longer distance races like a marathon, having some time to acclimate before the race is crucial for success. It allows your body to adjust to a new sleep setting (or jet lag, if your destination is in another time zone), as well as different weather conditions.
On the flip side, give yourself a few days to unwind after the race! You deserve to celebrate your race accomplishment. Trying to coordinate post-race activities, showering, checking out of your hotel, and catching a flight all in 1 day can be too much. If you’re traveling to another country, it also gives you the opportunity to check out more sights and try foods that you may have been avoiding pre-race.
- Carry-on your race gear
If you are traveling by plane, be sure to pack your race day essentials in your carry-on. Checked bags are misplaced every day, and no one needs the stress of finding a new pair of running shoes right before a big race. Shoes, clothing, sunglasses, hat – make a list of your must-have items and make sure that they are all in your carry on. Be safe and throw in an extra jacket, just in case the weather shifts. If you use energy gels, good news for you – though these count as “liquid” they are low enough volume that you shouldn’t face any issues bringing them on the plane.
- Stick to your routine … and foods
When it comes to a big goal race, my mantra has always been “Nothing new on race day”. Keep this in mind during that pre-race time at your new destination to keep your body in its best shape. You may be tempted to do more walking than usual while visiting the sights, or to try all kinds of new foods your destination has to offer, or to stay up late (hey, you’re on vacation after all). Refrain! There is nothing worse than having tired legs or an upset stomach the morning of a race.
I always pack plenty of my favourite snacks when I travel, so I know that I have something familiar to munch on. When booking accommodations, I try to find a room with a fridge so that I can hit a nearby grocery store and get some of my staples (believe it or not, you do not have to eat every meal at a restaurant!). My evening-before-a-long-run ritual is a giant cheeseless pizza from a chain pizza shop – if I can, I will order the exact same thing to my hotel. It’s also important to stay hydrated. You may forget to drink up while sightseeing, so carrying around your own water bottle is always a good reminder to stay hydrated.
- Have fun!
Whether you’re shooting for a new PR or just looking for a new experience, the most important goal is to have fun. Take in your surroundings as you pound the pavement, high-five some locals as they cheer you on, and take a few running selfies while you’re at it.
The Lévis Half-Marathon takes place on May 3rd 2020 and is a great spring race with spectacular views of the St Lawrence river and the Quebec City skyline. Prices will increase on March 10th, so sign up through the link below!