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Running Tips

Are you ready to race?

Nia Akins in a Brooks Beasts jacket
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Brooks Beast Nia Akins offers tips to help you to the finish line.

Racing is returning, slowly but surely.

Whether you're considering your first race or your 50th, it's always good to be prepared. And who better to help you get race-ready than a pro-runner?

We chat with Brooks Beast Nia Akins about her pre-race routine, how runners can stay mentally strong after the starting gun, and what it's like to deal with adversity during a race. Plus, she offers up her expert tips for race day.

Nia Akins warming up before a race

Nia's pre-race routine

While every runner is different, Akins recommends doing things to chill out and keep yourself from getting too keyed up.

I mainly try to chill all day by reading or writing. If I have my guitar, I'll practice before I race. I like listening to music the closer we get to race time. Nutrition-wise, I usually eat a light carb meal with some coffee an hour or so from warm up. And a few hours before the race I'll do a "shake out" which includes a little jog and some drills."

Nia's Pre-Race Tips

  • Try to eat things you're familiar with and have worked for you in the past
  • Listen to your body. Don't be afraid to adjust your pre-race routine to accommodate how you're feeling
  • Practice positive self-talk!
Nia Akins in a relay race
Nia Akins mid race

Nia on her racing mentality

Even though pro racing might seem unrelatable, adopting a pro mindset can help any runner achieve their goals.

On the line I always tell myself two things: (1) I belong here and (2) this is going to be ridiculously fun but it will hurt. During the race, I'm constantly reevaluating my position and how I'm feeling as objectively as possible. It helps me stay calm and grounded in the moment. Then I wait for the mental green light to "kick." When it comes, it's a knee-jerk reaction — I just go."

Nia Akins practicing starts
Nia Akins looks down

Nia's Racing Tips

  • So much of running is mental, I think being kind to yourself is an important skill. I personally feel like whatever the mind is feeling, the body puts into practice. If I beat myself up over how tired I'm feeling, I notice I'll start to lose form and get lazy.
  • Have good balance between your objective and subjective thoughts. Try to make sure your subjective and emotional thinking isn't in the driver's seat. In my experience, running off emotion works only sometimes. You must be strategic, because emotions can really cloud your judgement.
  • Accept adversity. There's nothing you can do in that moment to change it or make it better. Setting a new goal to run a race you're proud of is the best you can do in that moment. I think the silliest advice I've received is to finish a race no matter what; sometimes the strongest thing to do is stop — you have to listen to your body. This year I fell during the final at the Olympic Trials and it hurt, like a lot. But I'd made it that far, and I felt like I owed it to myself to finish that race. And it paid off. I was prouder of the way I responded to that that I'd been from any other race in my career.
Nia Akins stretching

Nia's post-race routine

Cross the finish line? There's still more to do. Recovery is also an important part of staying healthy and happy.

After a race, I'll jog a mile or so. If I'm lucky, my couch will have a workout planned as well. After all the running's done I'll have a protein shake and check in with our athletic trainer. When I get home I take an Epsom bath and rest hard for the rest of the day or evening."

Nia Akins hugging teammates
Nia Akins stretching with teammates

Nia's Post-Race Tips

  • Find a recovery routine. Everyone's different, but once you find a routine that works for you that leaves you feeling great the next day, stick to it.
  • Eat! Chowing down after a big effort is a huge part of recovery. After a race I usually have a little fun with food especially if we're in a fun city — while still making sure I'm getting what my body needs.

Nia and the Beasts

Get up to speed with Nia Akins and her pro running career on Instagram. Want more pro runner interaction? Check out the full Brooks Beasts roster and follow the team on Instagram.