Could Changing Your Pre-Race Routine Help You PR?

After all your hard work in training, all those hours spent ignoring that voice in your head, all those setbacks that made you doubt if you were ever gonna make it here. But you have, and now its race day (YAY!).

Today I thought I would share my pre race morning routine. It may seem extreme (especially the wake up time), but I promise you, it is 10000000% worth it!

The night before the race, I put my number on my jersey/vest/race top and set all my clothes out for the morning. I pack my bag, and be pretty much ready for if something bad happens and I somehow miss my alarm. That way you can also go to sleep that night at peace knowing that you are ready for the race.

So, lets start with a race beginning at 7:30am. Pretty typical for a race I would think.

Most people would probably think that they would rather have the sleep than get up at 4:30am, BUT I would urge you to PLEASE sacrifice your sleep (this one night) for the race. Especially as your sleep the night before is unlikely to be quality anyway as you are tossing and turning thinking about the race. There is also plenty of proof that the sleep the night before a race (no matter how bad) does not really affect you physically, it is only if you CHOOSE to let it affect you mentally.

So yes, early wake up, but it is SO worth it!


Alarm goes off (if I am not already awake).

Drink 1/2-1 cup of coffee with 1/2 packet of NuNaturals Stevia Sweetener. Also drink a chai tea (black) with some sweetener.

Eat a medium-large sweet potato with a tablespoon of almond butter, and a banana.

Note: This is a recent change since my consultations with Tawnee. I used to have a bagel and banana or oatmeal and a banana, but I have been trying this, and I really like it!

As for the coffee add in, listen to this podcast with Alex Hutchinson to see why.


Relax a little, keep moving around (mostly to go to the bathroom!!), but try to just be calm and sit still too. This is the time to take in water, and just relax, allow your body to get your digestive system going to get that out-of-the-way.

Get dressed about halfway through this time, so you are ready to go (and it gives you something to do), but you are not too uncomfortable. I usually will put my race bib on, but I will save my compression socks for later.


Head to the race start area.

Often I am lucky and there will be transportation to an elite area, where I can sit in the tent and stay warm. BUT I have also done many races where there was nothing like that (Army 10 Mile for example). In this situation, bundle up with way more clothes than you think you need, and just find a quiet place to sit for a little while…..obviously with bathroom breaks in between 🙂

If this is a race where you are picking up your number at the event, this is the time to put that on.


Start doing my dynamic warm up drills.


Start my warmup jog. For me this is 2-4 miles, depending on the distance of the race. I run at a very slow pace, barely breathing, but just enough to get moving. Keep extra layers on during this time.

IF the race does not have some kind of bag drop, I would make sure to wear some old clothes that you do not mind either throwing away for good, or leaving somewhere and risking them being cleaned away. You want to keep your body warm as long as possible.

7:00am (ish- depending on the distance)

Get back to my stuff, have a sip of water with Enduropacks Electrolyte spray in, and go to the bathroom for one last time. I usually sit there for a few minutes to make sure I am fully ready…..if you catch my drift……..and that is also a time to pep talk yourself a little. Yes, very random place for that, but no one can see or hear you talking to yourself! Build your confidence up and remind yourself that you are ready, and you are just out here to enjoy it!


Head to the start line. Do a few strides to wake your fast twitch muscles up so when you take off as the race starts, it is not too much of a shock to the system. These do not need to be much faster than race pace, and just do about 100m.


Stand on the start line staring ahead (or just thinking). Take a powerful pose, something that shows you are confident and believe in yourself. Studies have shown (listen to this ted talk) that when people take stances like that, our animal instincts is to build confidence to be ready for that flight (aka the start of the race).

Outdoor GLIACS 2009 (2)

Yes, you may look a little silly (as you see above- this was me in college), but you dot have to go to the hands on hips extreme that I do….just stand there, shoulders back, standing tall, and repeating in your head some words of confidence to yourself.


Off we gooooooooo (if they are on time of course!)

Go have fun!

How does this differ to your race morning? 

Don't go into your next race unprepared

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  • My pre-race starts early as well, and, with a few exceptions, looks remarkably similar to yours! WINNING

  • Yep – that looks about right! I always give myself plenty of time on race day, and I eat something a little different but otherwise, I do a lot of the same!! Always coffee. Always.
    Good luck and safe travels to the other side of the pond!!! Cannot wait to see all the greatness unfold on Instagram 🙂 xoxo

  • Luckily not many races in the UK start as early as 7.30am! Usually the earliest is 9am but I’d say on average they start at 10am. I tend to wake up early, have breakfast (porridge and black coffee), head to the race area and then go to the loo about a million times. I should warm up more but I only really do for shorter stuff…for half marathons and marathons I tend to warm up during the race. But then I’m never intending to win or place sooo….

  • I love the tip to stand with confidence at the race line! That’s not something I’ve really thought about before, but our stance and posture absolutely affects our mental thinking and performance.

  • Mine is somewhat similar but without the warmup jog, so I get up a little later. Dynamic stretches definitely get the muscles ready though!

  • my pre race looks similar to yours it’s the during part where we really differ LOL

  • I love the tip about the confidence stance! My pre-race routine is pretty similar and I definitely have to prepare everything to go the night before. Good luck and safe travels – enjoy your time there as well!

  • Martina Di Marco
    March 21, 2016 2:24 pm

    So funny! My race yesterday started at 7:30am and I woke up exactly at 4:30am and followed pretty much the same exact routine (with the exception that we had to be in our corrals by 7:10am, ugh). I need plenty of time becuase I like doing a long warm up. Yesterday I ran 3 [very slow] miles before my half and most people thought I was crazy for running that much before racing 13.1 miles but it takes my legs forever to warm up, so I have no choice.

  • Laura Anderson
    March 22, 2016 10:29 am

    2 Nights before the race for sleep is far more crucial than the night before- I always try and focus on that. Race morning, especially for longer races I like to be up really early so I don’t feel rushed and it gives me time to “dawdle” around while getting ready…which oddly helps me relax and get mentally focused.

  • Jane Mellors
    March 22, 2016 1:38 pm

    Thank you for listing out your race routine, it’s super helpful! Question for you: how many warm up miles do you run before a marathon? 2-4 miles seems like a lot before a marathon, so I am curious about your thoughts. Thanks Tina and GOOD LUCK!!!

  • Todd Buckingham
    March 24, 2016 10:43 am

    Why the change from bagel to sweet potato? I eat the same thing (bagel with PB and honey, banana, and oatmeal) and am curious as to what the benefits of the sweet potato would be over the bagel. Congrats on the selection for the national team too!! Such a huge accomplishment and something to be proud of for the rest of your life 🙂

  • I started eating 3 hours before the start too and it’s way better for my tummy!

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