Racing to the best your ability is a challenge at the best of times. When things are not going well, it can be awful and the suffering immense.
While it’s not always possible to control how you feel, there are certain steps you can take to increase the likelihood that you feel good on race day. Optimising your training and nutrition aside, a very simple step you can take comes in the form of your gear selection.
Many runners wait until the last minute to buy new gear or “save it to race day”, thinking it will give them a mental boost. While this can sometimes pay off, a lot of the time it causes unnecessary pain and suffering.
Buy Your New Gear Early
When you leave your gear purchases to the last minute or choose to wear the race singlet that you plucked from your goodie bag at the race expo, you are eliminating your chance to practice in your race kit.
When this happens, you do not know how the gear feels when you are running at race intensity, in race conditions. As a result, there are many common issues that can show themselves for the first time on race day, lowering your race experience and performance.
Chafing is the painful result of rubbing. Chafing is common around the armpits and groin area with runners using new tops or bottoms. It’s also seen in runners using a hydration belt for the first time.
Big or small, blisters are painful and will often result from running in new (or near new), shoes or socks.
While I (fortunately) haven’t ever experienced this myself, I can only imagine the pain that comes with bloody nipples. Bloody nipples is also a form of chafing where your top (usually heavy with sweat or water) pulls your shirt down against your skin and rubs on your nipples.
While you may not end up with any of the more painful ailments listed above, running in new gear can simply be uncomfortable when you are not used to it or have not ‘broken it in’.
The failure to control the things within your ability to control is a major (and common) trait I see in amateur athletes.
Before rushing out to buy any ‘last minute’ gear, consider making do with what’s in your wardrobe. Buy any new gear, well in advance of your next race and practice in it so that you know it works, it’s comfortable and you feel confident wearing it.