Race Tips: Tricks, Ideas and Hacks to Help Make Racing Easier

Here are my favorite ideas and practical tips for endurance athletes to help make race-day easier:

Confirm all your travel plans and race information the week before the race.  Make sure you have the right parking directions, bib pickup info, race start time, and hotel, plane and/or rental car pickup/dropoff dates.

Print any needed race waivers before you go to the race or packet pickup.

Cut your toenails at least two days before the event.  The nails will be easier to cut just after the shower.  If you accidentally cut them too short, they have time to heal.  Nails that are too long can rub into your shoes, causing blisters.

Do not shave on race day morning (legs, armpits, etc).  This means you don't have to deal with an accidental cut that can rub or open up during the race.

Check your closets for potential throw-away layers before buying one.  I've used old race shirts, old work shirts, old pajama tops, and even an old bathrobe for throwaway layers.  The bathrobe was awesome for the long pre-race wait at Disney. 

Large black (or contractor) trash bags or hotel laundry bags can serve as throwaway layers or emergency ponchos before a race start.

Old socks make great throw-away hand warmers for your pre-race outdoor wait, or for the first few miles. I use these instead of buying throwaway gloves, especially for races where I wouldn't wear gloves for the entire course.

Need instant arm warmers? Cut the foot off old knee-high cotton socks.  Or, cut the arms off an old long sleeve shirt.

Is it raining on race day?  Take two hotel shower caps and put them on your shoes to keep them dry before the race start.  You can also use shower caps on your shoes to keep dirty shoes separate from the rest of your items in your luggage.

In rainy or snowy weather, avoid things such as storm drains, piles of leaves, and the painted line on the road. These will be slippery when wet.

Avoid rain-filled puddles, as you might not be able to tell how deep they are.  A puddle might not look deep but could turn out to be a big pothole where you can catch your foot or twist your ankle.

To dry wet race shoes overnight, stuff them with crinkled up newspaper.  The newspaper absorbs the moisture.

Did your electronic get wet during a race?  Put them in a bowl of rice.  The rice will help draw out the water.

Have stinky shoes?  Save silica gel packets from clothing, electronics or powders, and put them in your shoes while not in use. 

Hand sanitizer will instantly kill the tingling/cold effect of Biofreeze or other therapy cremes.  After you apply Biofreeze clean your hands with the hand sanitizer.

If you are a safety pin user, keep a spare set in your car in case you accidentally misplace yours or someone else forgot theirs. 

Hate using safety pins and poking holes through your clothing for your race bibs?  Try large round magnets (from a hardware store or order online). Aim for magnets between the size of a nickel to a quarter.  (If you aren't sure, try this with an old bib on a training run first).

If you use solids for race fuel, such as Clif Shot Blox, Gu Chomps, or a candy like Swedish fish, open the packages before your race starts so you don't have to fumble with them while you are running or at a water stop.  Another option- take them out of the packages they came in and put them in a plastic bag you can easily open and carry (in a pocket or in a racing belt).

Sharing a hotel room?  Pack a surge protector in your bag so there are plenty of outlets for everyone to charge their GPS devices and phones.

If you need to train on a treadmill due to bad weather or unsafe road conditions, have the incline set to one percent or more to better simulate real roads.

If you need to carry a car or house key with you during a race, tie you key into your shoe laces by looping the key hole through your laces before double knotting them.

Always set two alarm clocks, especially on an early-morning wake up.

If you're staying in a hotel, check your hotel alarm clock to see if someone didn't set an alarm as a prank on the persons staying after them.

Sync your GPS device five minutes before the start so it has plenty of time to find its satelite before you cross the start line.

On the course- squeeze paper cups into a "V" shape to drink out of them.  This will help you avoid splashing water all over your face.

On race day, get in the porta potty line even if you don't think you have to go.  You will.

Wear sunscreen, even if it’s not a summer month, and even if it’s cloudy.  You’re going to be outside for a couple of hours in the exposure of the sun.  It is possible to get sunburn any time of year, even during winter races.  The weather can also unexpectedly change dramatically—a cloudy day can turn into a sunny day.

If you're on the course and you need it, there is no shame in picking up someone else's throwaway layer and putting it on.  

If you need to keep head sweat from rolling into your eyes, rub Body Glide across your forehead.  Go from the outside of left eyebrow across to the end of your right eyebrow.  

Always have food or snacks with you for the ride home, especially if you have specific food allergies or a specific diet.  Assume the worst (that the race runs out of food).  

Assume every dog you encounter, leashed or not leashed, will bite your arm off.  

Never assume the person holding his/her dog on a leash actually has control of the dog.