You can add to your daily total with meals or snacks like a salty soft pretzel, extra-salted spaghetti in tomato sauce, or a bowl of rice with soy sauce. Then, once your run is over, check out these tips to make sure you’re properly rehydrating, too.
4. Test all of these beforehand.
If you’ve heard the phrase “nothing new on race day” repeated ad nauseam, know that there’s a good reason for it: “You don’t want to cram for this type of test,” says Peralta-Mitchell.
That’s why he recommends practicing your race-day nutrition and hydration plan, in addition to your training runs, ahead of time. Taking the time to experiment and fine-tune your hydration intake, dinner the night before, plus breakfast, lunch and a snack on race day will help your body acclimate to the change and give you a better idea of how you will feel at any given time.
5. Lean on mental tools to combat the fatigue of the last day.
Because you’ll have a full day before you hit the line, you’ll likely be more physically and mentally tired during the competition. But if he hones his motivation—again, something to practice during his late-night training sessions—he’ll be prepared to move on once those feelings set in, says Peralta-Mitchell.
Use powerful words, sayings, and mantras to persevere when the going gets tough in a race. “When you run around, you have those moments where you are dialed in and focused, but you can easily beat yourself up with pain or challenge, like I’m running at night, why did I sign up for this??” she says. “But you’d be surprised how loudest the voice we hear is our own. If you practice (power words) weeks in advance, you’ll be surprised how confident you’ll be to show up on race day.”
For example, a phrase that Peralta-Mitchel finds especially effective in her careers is “I shine, you shine.” You can try some of these, adjust and modify them in a way that works for you.
6. Plan your logistics in advance.
It is important to know where you are going, what you are going to eat and what you are going to wear beforehand. Eliminating the unknowns, and much of the decision-making process in general, can calm nerves, says Peralta-Mitchell. Mapping your traffic situation, researching restaurants ahead of time (or taking your takeout with you if you’re on the road), and planning your outfit can all make things a little easier. (For night runs in particular, layering can be an issue, Christenson says, as temperatures often drop in the last few miles.)
Planning is also key earlier in the day to keep race day anxiety at bay—you’ll have hours to kill, so you’ll want to fill them with activities that keep your mind busy without stressing your body. If your goal is to achieve your personal best, Peralta-Mitchell suggests staying off your feet as much as possible, avoiding strenuous movements and staying close to your home or hotel. To keep your mind occupied while you wait for the event to start, you can also use this time to take advantage of more sedentary activities, such as catching a show or movie during the day, or taking a bus tour if you’re competing at a new location.
7. Embrace the unique atmosphere.
Peralta-Mitchell likes to remind her runners to approach each race as a unique journey. His body may react differently to afternoon runs than it does to morning runs, and that’s completely fine.
In some cases, you may feel an impulse: Before becoming the event’s racing director, Christenson ran her personal best half marathon on the super-flat track in Las Vegas. “Your mind is occupied by everything you’re seeing,” she says.
What’s more, a fun nightlife setting can “give you a chance to push yourself in ways you don’t normally,” says Peralta-Mitchell.
But in other cases, you may find it more enjoyable to just slow down and enjoy the ride, taking the opportunity to soak up all the things that make night runs feel so special. “Soil isn’t going anywhere, but living in that moment isn’t forever,” says Peralta-Mitchell. “Then accept it all!”