It’s only natural that before a race nerves start to creep in. However, follow the below race-day preparation tips to help settle the butterflies.
Know the circuit
Look at the map of where you’re running. What are the hills? What will you face in the last two ks when your body will probably want to pack up and go home? Study the route so that way there are no surprises.
Enjoy the taper
The taper is designed to allow your body to recover, rebuild, and be fresh for the race. Adding in extra cross-training, boxing class or pump can cause your fitness level to dip and actually lessen your race-day potential. Enjoy the taper and get yourself mentally prepared for the race.
Fuel and fluids
Did you know that during the last three days before an endurance (marathon, triathlon etc), carbohydrate intake should increase to around 70/80% of total daily caloric intake. Why? Because carbohydrate is the body’s celluar fuel.
Hydration can make or break your race. Keep your fluids levels up before the race and watch out for energy drinks suck as isotonic, hyptonic and hypertonic – each mean something different. When you sweat your excrete essesential minerals such as sodium and potassium. An isotonic drink is generally consdiered ‘neutral’ – meaning what you sweat you’ll get back via the consumption of an isotonic sports drink.
The different brands of sports drinks contain varying amounts of carbs and electrolytes, and some contains copious amounts of sugar. Some contain other components such as protein. If you’ve not tried these products during training, you don’t want to risk causing stomach issues on race day. Don’t over-hydrate.
Get some zzzs
Pretty basic this one but sleep matters. Try to stick to your normal routine and try to get a decent night’s sleep, ready and fresh for the day ahead.
Hopefully you know the importance of warming up. The warm-up should consist of dynamic movements like our normal routine of high knees, butt kicks, ankle flicks, shuttle runs, etc and NOT the traditional stretch-n-hold stretches. Five minutes of brisk walking followed by two to three minutes of easy jogging makes for a good warm up. Needless to say there’s no point running back and forth for 20 minutes before a 15k run and, chances are, you’ll use up much needed energy.
Put ya brakes on
Race day is a strange thing. There are people everywhere and some people believe that they’ll break a world record and set out the traps faster than Road Runner. It’s easy to get excited and try to run as fast as others, however, before you know it you’d have run the first few ks at a minute faster than your normal pace, making the last 13ks hell on earth. So the message is slow and steady to start with – find your groove, find your stride and get your pace right.
Where the mind goes the body follows. Think positive – say things like ‘can’t stop, won’t stop’. ‘Run strong’. ‘I’ve done the training – I put in the effort’. There are always factors out of your control that may affect race day (crazy weather, pouring rain, illness, injury, etc.), but what you can control is your confidence. Trusting your training and believing in yourself as an athlete will help ensure that all the hard work you’ve put in over the past few months will shine through.
And finally, above all else – have fun and enjoy it. It’s only one race. And if you don’t get your desired time, who cares? There’s another one just around the corner.
Finishing a 5, 10 or 15k event is one heck of an achievement in itself. Remember, you’re out there doing it – others are not.