You can add to your daily total with meals or snacks like a salty soft pretzel, spaghetti with extra salt in tomato sauce, or a rice bowl with soy sauce. Then, once your race is over, check out these tips for making sure you rehydrate adequately, too!
4. Test out all of this beforehand.
If you’ve heard the phrase “nothing new on race day” repeated ad nauseam, just know that there’s good reason for that: “You don’t want to cram for this type of test,” says Peralta-Mitchell.
That’s why she recommends practicing your race-day nutrition and hydration plan—in addition to your training runs—ahead of time. Taking the time to experiment and nail down your hydration intake, dinner the night before, plus race day-breakfast, lunch, and snack, will help get your body acclimated to the change—and give you a better idea of what you’ll be feeling like at each point.
5. Lean into mental tools to combat late-day fatigue.
Because you’ll have a full day before you toe the line, you will likely be more physically and mentally tired during the competition. But if you hone in on your motivation—again, something to practice during your night time training sessions—you’ll be prepared to push through once those feelings set in, Peralta-Mitchell says.
She taps into power words, sayings, and mantras to persevere when things get tough in a race. “When you’re racing out there, you have those moments when you’re dialed in and focused, but you can easily be overcome with pain or the challenge, like I’m running at night, why did I sign up for this?” she says. “But you’d be surprised with how the voice we hear the loudest is our own. If you practice [power words] weeks ahead of time, you’ll be surprised at how much more confident you’ll be able to show up on race day.”
For instance, a phrase that Peralta-Mitchel finds especially effective in her racing is “I shine, you shine.” You can test some of these out, and tweak and modify in a way that works for you.
6. Plan your logistics ahead of time.
It’s important to know where you’re going to go, what you’re going to eat, and what you’re going to wear beforehand. Cutting out the unknowns—and a lot of the decision-making process in general—can calm nerves, Peralta-Mitchell says. Mapping out your transit situation, looking up restaurants ahead of time (or bringing your go-to food with you if you’re traveling), and planning your outfit can all make things go a little smoother. (For evening races in particular, layering can come in clutch, says Christenson, since temps often dip in the later miles.)
Planning is key earlier in the day as well to keep race-day anxiety at bay: You’ll have hours to kill, so you’ll want to fill them with activities that keep your mind occupied without stressing your body. If your goal is to run a personal best, Peralta-Mitchell suggests staying off your feet as much as possible, avoiding strenuous movement and sticking close to your home or your hotel. To keep your mind occupied while waiting for the event to start, you can also use this time to take advantage of more sedentary activities—say, catching a daytime show or movie or taking in a bus tour if you’re racing in a new location.
7. Embrace the unique atmosphere.
Peralta-Mitchell likes to remind her runners to approach every race as a unique journey. You may find your body reacts differently to evening races than morning ones—and that’s completely okay.
In some cases, you may feel a boost: Before she became the event’s race director, Christenson actually ran her half marathon personal best on the super flat, evening Las Vegas course. “Your mind is occupied by everything you’re seeing,” she says.
What’s more, a fun, nighttime atmosphere can “give you the opportunity to push yourself in ways you don’t normally push yourself,” says Peralta-Mitchell.
But in other cases, you may find it more enjoyable to simply pull back your pace and enjoy the ride, taking the opportunity to soak in all the things that make nighttime races feel so special. “The ground is not going anywhere, but you living in that moment is not forever,” Peralta-Mitchell says. “So, take it all in!”