How to Be Prepared for a Successful Running Race

Whether you’re racing the Emerson Hospital 5k Run~Walk for Cancer this weekend or a marathon later this summer, here are some tips to ensure you toe the start line primed for peak performance. These tips are provided by Crystal Fontas, DPT, chief physical therapist of facility practices at Emerson Hospital’s Center for Rehabilitative and Sports Therapies. In addition to treating many runners and helping them prepare for their events, Crystal has completed multiple half marathons and five marathons, including the 2016 Boston Marathon.

Join us for our annual 5k Run~Walk for Cancer. Visit  for info.

Join us for our annual 5k Run~Walk for Cancer. Visit for info.

  • Be sure you are running in a shoe that suits your individual foot biomechanics, switch out your running shoes every 300-400 miles during your training. Please note, however, it is not recommended you start a race with a new pair of shoes.
  • Stick to your pre-race nutrition and fuel plan that has been working for you throughout your training – race day is not the time to try anything new.
  • Stay off your feet as much as you can in the days just prior to the race to conserve energy.
  • Ensure adequate sleep at least two nights prior to the race. 
  • Begin your hydration and carb-loading plan several days out and not simply a day or two before the event to ensure adequate reserves for race day.
  • Mentally prepare yourself for challenging features of the race by studying the course map, keeping an eye on the weather, and reading reviews and reports of the race. The fewer surprises on race day, the better.
  • Know when your exact start time is, how long you’ll need to get to the starting line, and what the weather will be at that hour of the day. Consider wearing layers on race day if the temperature will fluctuate a great deal between when you arrive and when you begin the race.
  • Perform a dynamic warm-up prior to running and static stretches following your run. Even when you’ve crossed the finish line, take care of your legs and perform some stretching!
  • If you experience any sort of dizziness, blurred vision, or you stop sweating when you are on the course, remember that these are signs of dehydration and you should seek medical attention right away.
  • After the race hydrate, hydrate, hydrate to flush out lactic acid. Good hydration should continue the rest of the day and into the next few days.
  • If you experience something other than generalized muscle soreness and it persists longer than five to seven days after your race, consider contacting a local physical therapist.
  • Try to relax and have fun! Enjoy the scenery, the positive energy of fellow runners and the crowd support!

If you are interested in an individualized running assessment performed by a trained rehabilitation staff member, please call Emerson's Center for Rehabilitative and Sports Therapies in Westford at (978) 589-6850 or in Concord at (978) 287-8200.