This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
Let’s be honest: it’s a little challenging to practice this, especially with crowds, anywhere but in a race
We’ve all likely heard the advice. Do nothing new on race day. Generally, that’s great advice and I’d encourage you to follow it. Practice whatever race day routines you can in training. Wear the shoes, socks, and gear that you plan to wear for race day in training. If you’re running a race that is long enough to warrant fueling, then practice your fueling strategy, ideally while running at least close to race pace, in training.
However, there are some things that we just can’t practice in training. It can be challenging to practice running in crowds. We can’t fully practice starting in an amped up atmosphere and holding ourselves back while the adrenaline is pumping. With some work, we can (and should) practice aid stations but, again, usually without crowds of other runners trying to get the same cups we’re going for and without volunteers handing cups to us in sometimes unpredictable ways.
This is why we should have tune up races. These are the races that are less important than the goal race but are still ones we should take seriously and, within the context of our training cycle, should be attempting to do our best at.
As much as possible, do nothing new on any race day. Ideally, do nothing at all new on the day of your goal race. In order to do that, plan some tune up races and do some new things that you just can’t practice in training at those races.