Doing a local race is awesome. You can sleep in your own bed, drive a short distance to the start— or, if you’re lucky, you may even be able to walk there. You don’t have to worry about staying in a hotel and you can be sure to eat your go-to breakfast before your race.
When you do a local race, your friends and family can come and cheer you on and then they can take you out to your favorite restaurant to celebrate afterwards.
But, the New York City Marathon is in New York and the Lifetime Chicago Triathlon is in Chicago and The Color Me Rad 5k is in Atlanta and so if you want to do any of these races, you’ll have to travel.
Here are 5 tips to help you set yourself up for success—and to make an out-of-town race more enjoyable and less stressful.
1. Make A List, And Check It Twice (or Fifty Times)
A week out from your race, make a detailed list of everything that you may need. Add to that list as things come to mind throughout the week. Before you leave, use the list to help you pack. Double, triple and quadruple check to make sure you have everything you need—most importantly your sneakers, a few pairs of socks, your race outfit, any special food items and whatever else you need to have a great race.
If you forget something like sunscreen or Chap Stick, you can most likely buy those things when you arrive at your destination, however, things like your sneakers and your favorite hat are irreplaceable, so make your list and check it twice!
2. BYOB – Bring Your Own Breakfast
When training for a race, one of the top pieces of advice is to eat the same breakfast before all of your training runs so that you know it is energizing and that is doesn’t give you any GI distress. With that said, it’s a good idea to bring your tried and true breakfast with you. Yes, your hotel may have a continental breakfast, but what if they don’t have any bananas, or are out of oatmeal?
To avoid any potential stomach issues stick with the breakfast that you know works for you and BYOB. For example, my go-to breakfast is toast with natural peanut butter and banana. So when traveling to a race, I usually bring a few slices of my favorite bread, a small container of natural peanut butter and a few bananas.
3. Turn It Into A Racecation!
I’m sure you’ve heard of a staycation, but have you heard of a racecation? If there’s an awesome out-of-town race that you’re dying to do, then why not make a mini-vacation or a long weekend out of it? Most hotels and rental car companies have cheaper rates when you book a longer trip and doing a race is a great way to explore a new city!
We made a week long trip of it when we ran the NYC Marathon and it was so much fun. We’re doing the Chicago Olympic Triathlon in August and it conveniently falls on my husband’s birthday, so we’re going to spend a few extra days in Chicago. I even noticed that someone ran the Paris Marathon with her husband while they were on their honeymoon! Trip to Paris anyone? Yes please!
4. Be Strategic With Your Carry-on Luggage
I’m a bit picky when it comes to gels and gu’s. When I say picky, I mean that the only gel that I will use is Huma Gel. (If you haven’t tried it, you should. It’s the bomb). Anyway, nothing is worse then going through security and having them confiscate your beloved gels. If you have a favorite gel, electrolyte drink or snack, then either keep it in your checked luggage, or make sure that you can purchase it when you arrive at your destination.
Also, if you’re traveling with your bike for a triathlon, make sure you check your CO2 cartridges and your multi-tool. Who knew that they are considered weapons?
On the other hand, don’t check your sneakers, your race outfit and any other essentials. That way, if your luggage is lost, you’ll still be able to race.
5. Make Pre-Race Dinner Plans Early
When traveling out-of-town for a race, it’s usually a good idea to make reservations for your pre-race dinner ahead of time. If you’re doing a popular race like the NYC Marathon, then good luck finding a restaurant close to your hotel that doesn’t have a 2+ hour long wait.
This super simple tip can save you tons of stress and it can help prevent you from becoming hangry (hungry + angry). You’ll most likely want to get to bed early to get a good night’s rest before your race, so having dinner reservations will ensure that things go as smoothly as possible and that you’re adequately carbo loaded for your race.
So the next time there’s a race that you want to do, don’t let the distance—of the race or its location—stop you from signing up! Use these five tips to help you have an awesome experience and a great race!