How to Prepare for a 5K on the Night Before

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You've been training for your first 5K race for weeks and tomorrow is the big day. What should you do to ensure that you are well-prepared to successfully complete the race? Preparing for a 5K the night before comes down to hydration, nutrition, packing and resting. You will need a few basic supplies in addition to your typical running shoes and gear, and you should plan ahead to make sure you have the appropriate supplies to make sure you are properly nourished and hydrated.

Things You'll Need

  • Sport bag
  • Safety pins - 4
  • Sport drink
  • Energy bar
  • Banana
  • Small towel
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Regular pasta (i.e., not whole grain)
  • Low-fat pasta sauce (e.g., marinara)
  • Lean chicken breast or tofu
  • Low-fiber vegetables (e.g., corn or green peas)
  • Salt
  • Sport drinks
  • Drink sport drinks instead of water the night before your 5K to ensure that you are properly hydrated--sport drinks or fluid replacement drinks contain important electrolytes.

  • Check the color of your urine--it should be nearly clear. If your urine is not clear, you aren't drinking enough liquids.

  • Eat your last large meal 12 hours before the race begins. Select grilled chicken or tofu for protein and eat a good-sized portion of regular pasta to provide carbohydrates for energy, with any low-fat sauce and low-fiber vegetables you like.

  • Pack your sport bag with safety pins (for attaching your race number), a small sport drink, an energy bar, a banana, a small towel, sunglasses, sunblock and any other small, essential items (e.g., asthma inhaler).

  • Lay out all of your clothing for race day--including socks and undergarments--and pack an extra change of comfortable clothing to carry with you so that you can change after the race.

  • Prepare your bed ahead of time, so that you have clean sheets and a comfortable place to rest. Lay down half an hour before you need to be asleep (i.e., allow 8.5 hours before your alarm) to allow time to unwind and fall asleep.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add salt to your food the night before the 5K to help you to retain water the following day.
  • Don't deviate from your normal routine too much the night before the 5K, or you may have difficulty sleeping.
  • Don't over-hydrate the night before the 5K--if your urine is clear, you are properly hydrated, and should continue to drink fluids at regular intervals.
  • Avoid caffeinated or carbonated beverages such as soda, coffee or tea the night before the 5K--these can dehydrate you and impact your performance on race day.
  • Avoid high-fat or high-fiber foods and vegetables, dairy products and seafood the night before the 5K--these will take time to digest or could upset your stomach and affect your performance on race day.

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