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Hit the road running with these race day do’s and don’ts

The big day is coming up quick, and you’re doing everything you can to prepare before your upcoming half marathon. But, still, you may be wondering what you can do day-of to start and finish the race strong.
Armed with the knowledge of what to do and what not to do, here’s how to set yourself up for race-day success.

What to do on race day:

No matter how much you prepare in anticipation of race day, you may have overlooked some key things you can do the day-of. Follow our tips below to get started on the right foot!
Use anti-chafing balm.
This can make the difference between a good and a bad race. Be sure to have your favorite anti-chafing balm on hand and that you’ve tried a few options beforehand to find your best one. 
“Chafing can be an extremely unpleasant experience during a 13.1-mile or 26.2-mile race,” says Justin Gerard Tunis, MD, sports medicine specialist at Geisinger Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Scranton. “To help avoid the discomfort, apply balm anywhere you might chafe including your armpits, under bra straps and even around your bellybutton.”
Check the weather. 
Weather can change in the blink of an eye, which is why checking the weather forecast the night before and day of your race is important. Ensure that you’re wearing the right clothing, including items such as a hat, gloves, sunglasses or sunscreen.
Get everything ready the night before.
Set out your clothing, prep your breakfast and take every step you can to make sure you’ve got everything you need, when you need it on the morning of the race. You don’t want to show up late because you couldn’t find your favorite running socks.
Warm up.

Properly warming up and stretching before the race begins will help you get off to a great start—plain and simple. Before the race officially starts, make sure you have time for a five to 10-minute jog and some of your favorite stretches. Do some breathing exercises to get grounded and focused, too.
Be sure to finish your warm up five to 10 minutes before the start of the race, so you don’t feel rushed.

What NOT to do on race day:

Any of these things might have a similar effect as having “woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” 
Don’t change up your routine.
If you feel like you want to try eggs benedict for the first time as your race fuel, don’t. The last thing you want to do on race day is try something new that could end up backfiring. Stick to foods and drinks you can tolerate, and wear an outfit you’ve run in before that you know you’ll be comfortable in.
“I encourage runners to practice his or her race day routine during longer training runs,” says Dr. Tunis. “That way, there are no surprises for the runner when the big day arrives.”
Don’t skip a meal.
You need to make sure that you’re adequately fueled for race day. “Make sure that you properly fuel the night before,” says Dr. Tunis, “and wake up early enough to eat several hours before the start of the race.”
Don’t come to a complete stop.
You can slow to a walking pace as often as you need but be sure to glance behind you quickly to make sure no one is close enough to run into you. Don’t lunge for water either—you could end up spilling on yourself or a fellow runner, and that isn’t comfortable for anyone.
Don’t play your music too loud.
It’s a good idea to wait until the race starts before hitting ‘play’ on your playlist. This will ensure you’ll hear all announcements and can start the race with the most up-to-date information on the course. Once you get going, make sure your music isn’t too loud that you can’t hear cars or fellow runners if they need to get your attention.
“Be safe and have fun! You worked hard to get here, and we can’t wait to cheer you on,” encourages Dr. Tunis.

Geisinger is a proud sponsor of the Scranton Half Marathon. Share your photos from the race and tag them with #ScrantonHalfforHealth!
Dr. Tunis is a sports medicine specialist who sees patients at Geisinger Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Scranton. To make an appointment with Dr. Tunis, call 800-275-6401 or visit