The Week of the Race:
- Carb Fuel: We have all heard the importance of “carb loading” the night before a big race but the optimal way to properly fuel is to start consuming more carbohydrates during the week. This doesn’t mean binge on your favorite pastas and eat loaves of bread in a single setting, it just means smaller portions of carbs each meal a few days before the race.
- Hydrate: The daily recommended water intake is around 96 ounces of water – so if you aren’t drinking that much, start taking in more water! Waiting the day before or the morning of a race to really think about hydration is not your best option. Proper hydration is a lifestyle habit. It is essential to health.
- No New Workouts: Save the Buns of Steel video for another week, your body needs time to rest for the big day so wait to start a new workout or strength train for after your race. The rule is not to do anything ‘new’ physically the week of the race!
- Be a Weather Channel Watcher: We all know the weather can change many times in any given week, so staying tuned in will help with what’s most likely so you can be prepared. If you need to purchase new apparel, this will give you time to wear it so you will know how it will feel on race day. NOTE: wearing anything new; shoes, socks, hat, underwear could lead to potential race irritation so always play it safe with what you know works best for you.
- Check out the Race Website/Emails: Most frequently asked questions can be found on the website as well as all race day information. Become familiar with start/finish area, course maps, water stops/aid stations, etc. Make sure you read the race/event emails in case of any last minute changes or notifications.
- Print Confirmations: for everything. Hotel, rentals, race registration etc. It’s better to be prepared, just in case!
- Purchase Race Day Fuel in Advance: The race expo may not have the flavor or brand that you trained with i.e. Chomps, Gu, Accel Gel, Etc. Stick to flavors or brands you know work well for you and your stomach. You don’t want unnecessary stomach upset due to poor planning.
- Create your playlist: If you’re running with music, make a race playlist long enough so you don’t get stuck at mile 10 listening to that old Christmas song you forgot was on your iPod and then worry about trying to change it which can mess up your running pace/rhythm. Or, better yet, run without music and make lots of friends on your journey to the finish line!
- Rest! Try to get as much rest and sleep as possible leading into race weekend. Keep stress to a minimum (I know easier said than done!) Don’t panic.
- Expo: try to get to the expo as early as possible. Saturday afternoons will be the busiest time so try and go Friday or early Saturday morning if you don’t want a lot of body to body contact! If you are picking up a bib for someone, check what the race policy is to ensure you have proper identification etc. Don’t try new foods, gels, or drinks. There are always a lot of goodies and freebies to try at expos but they may not always agree with you. Take your packaged goodies with you for later but the day before a race is not the best time to test them out.
- Ask Questions: Unsure of something, utilize the information desk at the expo. They are there to help! Other runners are famously helpful as well – which is one of the greatest things about running – we’re all in this together!
- Drive the route: look for parking, spectator/ family meet up areas, road blocks. Always be prepared for the worst case scenario. Know the route if you’re driving and have a backup plan in case of heavy traffic or construction.
- Have A Post Race Meet Up Plan: Talk to your friends and family before the race and have a meeting spot for when you finish. Many races will have a designated “family area” – be very specific, there will be thousands of people!
- Make Dinner Reservations: Everyone counts down the days to “carb load” before the race so be prepared to wait at your favorite pasta restaurant. Another smart move is to call ahead or place food orders to go. If you’re eating at home purchase food beforehand so you have one less worry the day before the race. Go easy on your fiber or anything new that could upset your stomach or throw your GI system out of whack. Consider eating an earlier dinner so you have time to digest the meal before going to bed early.
- Rest: Make sure and get rest! Be careful with what shoes you wear the day before and try to keep off your feet as much as possible. Hydrate often and just chill out with a movie or some relaxing music.
- Set Out Race Attire: Alarms go off in the wee hours of the morning on race day so prepare the night before so that you don’t forget anything and can relax and focus on all the excitement of the day! Set out all of your clothing along with your race bib, pins, iPod, watch, gels, body glide, shoes, and your race timing chip.
- Set Alarm(s) – Allow enough time in the morning to wake up, eat, drink water, coffee etc. and do your morning *business*.
Race Day – Party Time!
- Leave for the Race Early: Plan to be on site AT LEAST 30-45 minutes early and add 30 extra minutes to your commute in case of traffic or detours. Yes, it is early yes but is definitely better to be there with plenty of time to use the restroom, warm up and get in your start corral.
- Upon Arrival: Once you have gotten to the start area, familiarized yourself with the area, go to the bathroom one last time, move your legs around, warm up and then find your corral. Settle in (as much as you can) and relax! Check to make sure your shoes are double knotted; headband is just right, etc.
- Start Corrals: Make sure you are in the correct corral. You can go back in a corral but you cannot skip ahead to a faster one.
There will be crowds of runners everywhere so be prepared to start slow in the beginning. Remember that your ‘start’ time will begin when the timing chip on your shoe crosses the start line and finishes when you cross the finish! Conserve your energy in the beginning and be patient. Let the crowds thin out before you try to “make your move”.
Being prepared and ready is the key to having a great day! You’ll have to make adjustments and perhaps improvise on the course depending on what the day gives you, but knowing you went in prepared is a great confidence builder for enjoying your journey. It is very important to make sure you stick to your hydration and energy plan! Take it all in – the sights, the sounds, the excitement and the camaraderie of all the other runners trying to get to that finish line and picking up that finisher’s medal – and the great satisfaction of seeing all that hard work you put in paying off! Enjoy the journey – you certainly earned it!
~ Coach Sara