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Race Day Preparation

Pre-Race Preparation

No matter how hard you train, the days leading up to a race can make or break your performance. There is no one proven way to prepare for a race or big workout, so keep in mind that some, all, or none of these strategies may be beneficial to you. The following are some of the most successful approaches to race day.

Tapering: In the days leading up to a race, cut back on the length and intensity of your run. For some, it is mentally difficult to ease up during runs leading up to a race for the fear of “losing fitness”, but keep in mind that a few days out from a race you are already as fit as you’re going be for that race. You don’t have anything to gain from running faster or farther, but you have a lot to lose. Enjoy some easy runs and focus on the race ahead.

Nutrition: This is probably the hardest aspect of race day preparation to master. It is very individualistic, so tweaking the following ideas to fit what you know your stomach can handle while running is encouraged. Your mindset towards food as a runner should be something resembling “calories equal energy”. This doesn’t mean you should go eat a dozen donuts, however, not all calories are created equal. As you become accustomed to racing you will start to learn how much food you need to be properly fueled for the upcoming race. When fueling for a race, the majority of your diet should be complex carbohydrates (roughly 55-65% of your caloric intake). Common meals for runners to eat the night before the race that aren’t too hard on the stomach that also includes high amounts of complex carbohydrates are baked potatoes, rice, and pasta (ideally with a red sauce). What you should eat on race day is very dependent on when your race time is. We advise that you shouldn’t try anything new on race day experiment with what works for you on days when you workout, not on race days when you have more at stake. Aside from what to eat, don’t eat any meals too close to your race. If you haven’t made this mistake yet you are either very lucky or know your stuff, but if you have made the mistake of eating too close to a race, you will never forget it. As a guideline, most runners need at least three hours between their last small meal and their race, and many need even longer. Last tip for nutrition: make sure you stay hydrated! No matter what the temperature is going to be on race day, being hydrated helps your body run more efficiently. It impacts a lot more than just temperature regulation, it also impacts your bodies ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles, among other things.

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How to transfer workout performance to race performance

“Hi Im a high school runner and I have a problem. I can stick with all the top guys at my school in practices and everything, in long runs, intervals, etc. But when it comes to races I cant seem to stick with them. I also ran 470 miles over the summer with my friend and hes the fastest on the team and im about the 7th or 8th at the moment but at practice im right behind him. I find that im always putting myself down and struggle with the mental aspect of running when it comes to races. Could I get some advice please? Thanks much! You’re Great!”

Hello High School Runner. It sounds to me like you have a lot of the qualities that I like to see in my athletes. You have a desire to be your best, and you are committed to working hard, yet you haven’t quite reached the level of runner that you want to be and that you know you can be. It can be very frustrating to be putting in all of the work, but not quite seeing the results in the performances.
My first advice to you is to stay patient with yourself. Not everyone progresses at the same rate and not everyone figures out the racing side of running with the same ease. It is very important to not be too hard on yourself. Don’t get discouraged from a bad race. Take something positive from each race, and move on to your next opportunity to prove yourself. Bad races are definitely not the end of the world – don’t let any one race feel like it is the most important thing in your running. And try not to compare yourself to your teammates – ask yourself if you are giving YOUR best effort. If you are, then stay positive. If you are not, then focus first on giving your all. Never stand at the starting line afraid of having a bad day. Bad days happen (all the time) but don’t waste your energy being afraid of them. You should be standing at the starting line knowing you are going to give your best effort – knowing you are going to race with all your heart – whether it is a good day or a bad day.
I hope you are taking confidence from your workouts. If you are working out with the top runners on your team, eventually you will be racing with them as well. Realize that you are a stronger runner than you are showing in your performances and believe that you will eventually be able to show that. Keep treating your workouts like races and start approaching the races the same way you approach a really good workout. Eventually you are going to figure out the racing. Read More….
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