Training and Recovery Tips for Your Summer 10K

The OrthoCarolina 10k Classic, the area’s premier summer running event, is quickly approaching and Scoop has you covered for the August 17th race with general running tips as well as expert advice. In its 10th year, this race has become a much-anticipated summer tradition for area runners. The course is challenging, the t-shirt is always a little better than your typical race shirt (can I get a hallelujah for tech fabrics), and the charity beneficiaries are top-notch (Care Ring and Running Works). But the best part of this event is inarguably the expo at the finish line. There are food truck options and local breweries will be pouring your post-race reward of choice into the free pint glass that comes with every registration. If 10k’s aren’t quite in your wheelhouse yet, not to worry, there is also a 5k course, kid’s fun run, and an untimed “Rookie Run” 5k designed to take the pressure off of your race.

We’ve put our pre-race prep suggestions into an easy checklist format so any other checklist loyals like myself can go nuts with color-coded Sharpies as you mark items off with what some might say is “excessive” enthusiasm. Seriously, what satisfaction is greater than slapping a big, juicy checkmark next to a task in your to-do list?

We’ve broken your pre-race to-dos down into one week out, one day out, and day of categories, so get your Sharpies poised to strike and chase away some pre-race jitters by preparing for race day like a pro, no matter your experience level.

Scoopcharlotte’s OrthoCarolina 10k Classic Prep Checklist

T-minus one week

  • Increase your pace if you’re striving for a certain finish time with our tips here. But make sure you’ve been doing this earlier in your training too.
  • Get familiar with your route. Trace the race route however you see fit (on foot, from the saddles of your bike, or by car) so there are no surprises when you’re gunning for the podium, trying to beat a personal best, or simply claiming victory by finishing. Figuratively clear your path to whatever your end-goal may be so that you really have no excuses at the finish. Running is all about you- own it! There’s no one else around to drop your perfect pass or let a defender through for the sack and, afterall, you’re a bonafide athlete now so you’ve got this. When you know what’s coming, you’re better able to manage your exertion and prepare.
  • Don’t introduce new shoes, gadgets, or running styles right before a race. Stick to the same methods you’ve used in your training and remove any possible complications. When you’re planning for your next race and want to shake things up in your training, check out Scoop’s gear rec’s and an OC PT’s tips for choosing the right shoes for you.
  • Eat light but filling meals and make sure to do your research before participating in any pop culture-fueled pre-race practices. Carbo-loading the day before a race with enough pasta to feed a small village isn’t actually the best approach to upping your stored energy. Many up their carb intake in small increments or do a carb-heavy day 2 days prior to their event. This is mostly for distances greater than a 10k though, so light meals that are high in protein without too much fiber are a 10k runner’s BFF. Consult your doctor or a dietician for what’s right for your body- everyone is different!
  • Stay hydrated and don’t wait for the day before (or worse, the morning of) a race to chug a gallon of water college-style. Small, polite sips is the name of the game.
  • Put together a killer playlist with music that will motivate you to keep going. Or use my favorite from a few years ago here (parental advisory required… sorry, Mom).

T-minus  one day

  • Pin your race bib to your shirt now instead of risking the hazard of stabbing yourself with safety pins as you fumble at the starting line. Added bonus: your bib will be straight as an arrow in your race photos.
  • Reap the sweet relief of tapering and give your body a rest. You’ve been training and should be prepared- congrats! If you’re feeling the need for a shakeout run, keep it at an easy pace with a tiny bit of speed incorporated to prime your muscles for competition. Otherwise, kick back and relax with a good excuse to stay off of your feet and catch up on that book you’ve been neglecting or that movie you haven’t been able to find the time to watch.
  • Scope out the parking situation ahead of time. It seems simple but this can really mess with your mojo the day of a race. Don’t risk having to run before you’ve even started the race by scrambling from parking lot to starting line.
  • Go to bed early. Getting a good night’s sleep will help keep you sharp and focused on your goal.
  • One of my personal pre-race rituals is to dedicate each mile to one person I care about. I helps me push through when a hill seems too steep, I want to walk, or I just need a little extra boost if I frame it as “their mile.”

The big day

  • Set your alarm a few minutes earlier than you think you need to as your insurance policy against anything out of the ordinary getting in the way of your carefully laid plans.
  • As tempting as it may be to skip breakfast at what will surely be the crack of dawn, make your best effort to get a little protein and carbs on your stomach but avoid fiber-rich foods that could upset your stomach during your race. Some of my favorite race day breakfasts are an English muffin with peanut butter and banana with a sprinkle of chia seeds and dash of cinnamon, oatmeal with nuts, or a smoothie with fruit and yogurt.
  • Arrive to the starting line early to allow plenty of time for any last minute registration items, some light stretching, and extra time to wake up.
  • Check the weather and plan accordingly with both your clothes and your gear. Your body temperature will be increasing along your run so the light jacket you might have needed before the race could become an obstacle to struggle with on the race course.
  • Have a plan of attack for water stations. There is always a bottleneck at the beginning of the water stop, be smart and use a pro trick by going to the end of the table. Once you have your cup, pinch it to make a spout and sip- SIP– don’t gulp.


You did it! Now it’s time to refuel with a protein bar or similar snack after your race, keep moving to keep your muscles from stiffening, stretch, and pat yourself on the back. I made the mistake of a post-race nap after my first half marathon and was hobbling around the rest of the day. Don’t be like me. It’s not a bad idea to do a short, easy workout the day after to help speed your recovery time either… or you can get back to that book or movie from the night before your race.

At the OrthoCarolina 10k Classic finish line!

Good luck on race day, people! Make sure you bring Scoop along for the fun by tagging us in your Instagram post using @ScoopCharlotte. I’ll be available for high fives from the start to the finish- don’t be shy!


Nicole Brantley
Nicole is a native Charlottean that loves the Queen City almost as much as running, writing, and type-A organization.