Whether your goal is to win a medal, place in the top of your age group or just cross the finish line it is important to prepare for race day. Obviously, one of the most important things you can do to prepare for race day is commit to an appropriate training regimen. Still, your plan for a successful race should not stop there. Even after you have trained well a few more steps can help you comfortably cross the finish line. Use the following tips to enhance your local race day experience so all your hard work pays off.
During race training…
Wear the clothes and gear you intend to wear on race day. You don’t want to find out the hard way that what you thought would be the perfect tank, shoes or shorts have become your race day nightmare. During the race you want to focus on your performance, how your body is responding to the course, your pace, the weather, etc. Don’t let sore feet, chafing or sloshing water bottles distract you from giving this day your best. The same advice goes for course fuel. If you intend to use sports drinks, gels, bars or other supplements, try them while you train to decide which will work best for you. Another benefit of trying before the race – you reduce the likelihood of an unpleasant gastrointestinal episode. Spring a surprise on your system on race day and you may find that visits to the port-a-potty keep you off the course.
The week before the race…
Resist the temptation to get in one last push. Wouldn’t you hate to have an injury with race day on the horizon? Instead, use these days to rest and taper your training. Your training schedule should be comparatively light this week. Don’t worry, you will not lose your conditioning in one week, but you will improve your performance if you begin the race with rested legs. The week before is also a good time to make your race day checklist.
Two days before the race…
Your focus in the final 48 hours should be on the quality of your sleep and your nutrition. Pre-race night jitters may make it difficult to sleep well one night before you head to the starting line. That won’t really matter too much if you sleep well two nights before the race. As long as you aren’t dealing with accumulated exhaustion – a few nights of no sleep – your adrenaline will carry you through just fine on race day even if you didn’t sleep well the night before. If you’re a fan of carbo-loading for race day energy now is the time to switch from complex carbs to simple whites that give fast energy. Think white pasta and white bread. Avoid high fiber foods; again you do not want any gastrointestinal upset on race day.
The night before the race…
Set your clock. Imagine how terrible it would feel to sleep through the race. Before you set the clock be sure that you have every thing you will need laid out because there will be no time to search for stray items. Remember the checklist you made the week before race day? Pull it out today. Do not rely on your memory because it may fail you. Some things to include in your race day bag depending on the season:
Train fare or parking money
Preparing for race day enhances your performance as well as your experience. If you forget something and you can’t borrow it from a fellow runner, decide not to worry about it. After all, when preparing for race day the only thing more important than your training regimen is your attitude. You CAN do this!