In need of a little help to get a PR on race day? Try these hacks before and during your race to help you achieve a faster time.
If you're in it for the long haul, a little bit of caffeine before a race can be the boost you need. Studies have shown that about five milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight of caffeine before a race (the equivalent of 295 milligrams of caffeine for a 130-pound woman) can help better your endurance so you can run faster for longer. If that sounds like too much to drink before a race, other studies have found a benefit with the equivalent of one cup of coffee (about 100 milligrams of caffeine), or you can also try caffeine pills.
This tip doesn't sound fun — and is not for beginners — but many serious runners train this way in order to increase speed on race day, since going on a few training runs when you are somewhat dehydrated helps your body adapt to compensate for this stress. You can try this out by weighing yourself before and after a run, aiming for a difference of 1.5 to 2.5 percent under your beginning weight, recommends Runner's World. This should be done close to race day, during taper week, for five straight training days. But since this one can be dangerous if you don't do it right, be sure to bring along water and your phone and be aware of signs of serious dehydration, like headache, nausea, and confusion — or skip this tip altogether and run hydrated and happy.
Calm Your Mind
Jittery prerace nights can make a good night's sleep virtually impossible, but lack of sleep can affect your performance on the big day. The solution? Allowing yourself ample time to fall asleep, taking a sleep aid that helps you stay asleep once you've gone to bed (if they've worked for you before), and relaxing before bed with a cup of herbal tea or some yoga to wind down. Anything that quiets your mind for a good night's sleep will help you perform better the next morning.
Pop a Painkiller
Running your race on a hot day? Taking a dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) before you start can help. A study found that the pain reliever, also used as a fever reducer, significantly reduced runners' core temperatures during a hot running day, which helped them perform better. It also may help you power through a little pain, which can be beneficial when you're feeling the aches that usually go along with running a long race.
Don't Lace Up
Sick of having to stop and retie laces or adjust the tightness on your double knots? Lace up your running shoes with elastic or stretchy shoelaces that stay in place so you won't have to stop — and mess up a good running flow — whenever you have a lace mishap. These bungee-cord-like speed laces ($6) are a favorite among serious runners, or try these stretchy Twistband shoelaces ($6) for a cuter option.