It’s the big week, your race is right around the corner and you can taste it! You are bouncing back and forth between “I AM SOOOO READY AND CAN’T WAIT TO CRUSH THIS!!!!!” to “oh my godamIreallyreadyforhtisdistaneHaveItrainedenoughit’ssofarandlongamIsureIcandoit?!?!?!!!”
You are about to embark on something you haven’t done before. You should have questions, you should be wondering if you’re ready, you should be nervous. This is all perfectly normal. The real question is, what are you doing about it?
The best plan is to follow a plan. Each day review your plan, check the boxes you can for that day, and try not to sweat the rest.
Here is your plan for Race Week
1. Nothing New
You are going to be tempted to get a new pair of shoes because “the ones I’ve been training in have over 100 miles now”, or trying out that new Mexican restaurant the night before the race sounds fun.
Do not subject yourself to ANYTHING you don’t know 100% how you will react.
2. Lots of self care
Follow your training plan, a good coach will have you reducing your running milage and time and increasing your dedicated self care practice. Listen to them! A great rule of thumb is when you feel like you should be out there putting in a few more miles go do some mobility.
3. Eat normal
Don’t restrict just because you’re doing less training, eat to hunger. Also, don’t eat anything out of the ordinary (see Rule 1). If you’ve never had Indian Cuisine, now is not the time to experiment. Wait and go get it as a celebratory dinner after the race.
4. Get lots of sleep the week of, especially two nights before
Work every trick you have for a good night sleep, every night this week. Turn the screens off early, drink some your tea, dim the lights. REST. Do everything you can do get a deep nights sleep two nights before the race, i.e race day is Saturday morning, sleep yo ass off on Thursday night . Do not sweat the night before, nerves tend to wreck havoc on sleep patterns, making sure you’re well rested the nights before will be an insurance policy.
5. Start visualizing
I can not express how important SEEING yourself finish is. Ask yourself how it is going to feel to cross the finish line, what emotions will you have? Seriously, sit there with your eyes closed listening to your favorite “pump me up song” and visualize crossing that finish line. SEE the weather, the smells, the emotions; how you’ll feel both physically & emotionally,
6. Do NOT listen to unsolicited advice
At the very least check with your coach before you take any unsolicited advice. Everyone who has or has ever thought about running a distance race is going to be willing to share with you their advice, often a horror story about how their nipples bleed or toe nails fell off. These stories are all well and good, there can be some learning to be had – but we go back to Rule 1, don’t do anything new.
7. When you feel like you should be training start planning.
You are NOT going to loose any fitness the week of a race. I repeat, you are NOT going to loose any fitness the week of a race. You also are not going to gain any fitness (that will help with the race) on race week. So use that time to plan Race Day (see Check List below) and work on some self care. Race week is about rest and recovery – NOT more work.
Sample Race Week Schedule
S&S Warm Up
5 Push Ups
NIGHT BEFORE RACE
1. Eat a good dinner
In line with the Rule 3 above, eat normal, just add a little extra carbohydrates. When we say a little we are talking about a baked potato or 1/4 cup of rice, not 3lbs of pasta.
2. Layout everything you need for the Race Morning, common items may include:
- Bib number, pinned to clothing
- Shoes, socks, shorts, shirt, hat, jacket, gloves
- Body lubricant
- Waist pack, hydration belt, handheld bottle, run vest
- Fuel : Gels, chews, drink mixes
- Headlamp, flashlight
- Drop bag(s)
3. Double check Race Day Check List (see below)
4. Review Race Packet
Make sure you know road closures, parking areas, cut off times, water stations, etc
5. Set 2-3 alarms
This will help you keep from sitting up in the middle of the night thinking you over slept.
6. Prep Breakfast
Ensure you have everything you need for your Race Breakfast. One of the last thing you want to do is go to make coffee and realize you don’t have enough.
You’re ready. You did the training, you’ve got your gear, you’ve taken care of all those little niggles that popped up, you are good. Now breathe and relax.
- Driving route – Pay attention to road closures. Just because you know where the starting line is and have been there 100x doesn’t mean you’ll be able to get there race morning due to road closures.
- Parking – Just like driving to the race, parking can become tricky. Most major races will have information on designated parking areas for runners. KNOW where you plan on parking.
- Add 30-60min – What ever Google Maps says your driving time will be, add 30-60min. Yes you may get there early, but this just gives you more time to park, find the start line, find a port-a-potty for those pre-race jitters, and dump your drop bag.
- Designated meet up point with friends and family for after the race
- Breakfast (whatever you have been doing before long training runs)
- Lube up – You should already know where you tend to get hot spots. Common areas are between toes, arches of feet, heels, behind the knees, crotch, and armpits.
- Breathe – Again you are ready. You did the training, you’ve got your gear, you’ve taken care of all those little niggles that popped up, you are good. Now breathe, relax, and enjoy the big day is finally here!
I am strong
I am fast
I did the work, I am prepared
I am ready
These are the types mantras you need to repeat every time you start worrying or wondering about your ability on race day.
I’ll see you at the finish line!