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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.

Mental Preparation: The key to your preparation is positivity. Have an optimistic outlook on your race and your fitness level. This attitude is what will get you through the race when it gets tough. Make positivity a habit! Another important aspect of your mental preparation is visualization. Before you run any race you need to visualize yourself accomplishing the goals you have set for that race. This isn’t just a quick thought either. Take ten minutes, close your eyes, and watch the race play out in your mind. See your competitors, hear the sounds around you, smell the air around you, feel the burning in your legs and the wind in your face, see yourself pushing through that pain, and see yourself succeeding. The more details you are able to include in your visualization, the more beneficial it will be. Visualization can actually help build the neural pathways necessary to accomplish your ideal envisioned race. It’s well worth the time.

Sleep: Sleep is an important aspect of preparing your body for your event. Runners are recommended to get between eight and nine hours of sleep at night. It may sound impractical to many, but try to make it a goal. Strive towards it each night, and if you fall short, which is bound to happen some nights, just think how much more sleep you got than when you didn’t have a goal in mind. It’s important to remember that the sleep that will have the greatest effect on you feeling good on race day comes about 48 hours prior to the race. Yes, that means that your most important night of sleep for a race is two nights before your race. This might take a little planning to give yourself that much needed quality sleep time.

Nerves: It’s normal to be a little nervous before a race, but if it gets out of control it can be detrimental to your performance. When you are stressed, your heart beats a lot faster than it should in normal situations. Your heart, like any other muscle, will fatigue when it is working hard. If you find yourself getting over anxious or stressed about your race, try using deep breathing techniques and listening to calming music to try and bring your heart back down to its normal pace.

Try utilizing some of these techniques going into your next workout and see how it affects your performance! If it goes well, it will likely have the same effect on your races.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 14th, 2018 at 9:18 am and is filed under Beginners, Coaches Corner, Nutrition, Pre-Race Nutrition, Racing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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