Race day is near! You have spent many days and nights dreaming, preparing, and worrying about the day to come. Let’s be sure that you show up at the start line with your shoes on the right feet and mind in the right place.
1) Rest & Recovery
Rest & recovery is this week’s #1 priority. We like to obsess about the physical training that we have put in, but your body will not perform optimally on race day without focusing on your recovery. RHR (Resting Heart Rate) and HRV (Heart Rate Variability) are great way to tell how ready your body is for the race. I would suggest the following: daily stretching, ice baths or cold showers, a massage two days prior, and focusing on good sleep. For improved sleep minimize distractions by eliminating light, shutting down electronics early, avoiding pre-sleep meals, and lowering the temp to 65 degrees.
2) Nutrition Strategy
Start hydrating days in advance. Dehydration can make even an “easy” pace feel harder. Consume plenty of water in the days before the race. Add some extra sodium to your water or food as sodium helps the body absorb water.
Eat Normal. No new foods. No diets. Stick to foods that have given you a boost during training without upsetting your stomach. Don’t restrict your calories to show up a pound lighter, you could end up at the starting line feeling depleted and fatigued.
Carb-Load two nights before but eat a normal plate. Let’s not derail what you have achieved during your workout plan.
3) Course & Logistics
Review the course route and course elevation. Make mental post-it notes to prepare your brain for the challenges ahead (i.e., where can I cruise or where do I need to focus). Make sure to visualize yourself accomplishing your goal, feeling the smile and strength. Your willpower can and will push you through to the finish line.
Review your logistics for packet pick-up and race day parking. Make sure you add some buffer time to both. No worries about sweating over the small stuff.
Layout out your gear the night before. Shoes, shorts, shirt, gadgets, hat/visor, socks, and nutrition… check! Stick to your trusted gear selections… wearing something new on race day can lead to some uncomfortable miles.
4) “Week of” Training
Stick to the training plan as mentioned before Recovery is #1. Focus on easy runs to keep your legs fresh. It will do no good to fit in a last-minute long run. You have done the work during your training journey. To perform optimally your body needs to be full of energy, relaxed, and focused to unleash all the strength and speed you worked so hard to develop.
5) Reflect and Reset
Reflect on your training. Add up all the miles you logged to train for this big event. Take note of all the times you pushed yourself out the door for a tough workout when you would have rather stayed in. Draw confidence from all that you accomplished on the way to the starting line.
Reset your goals. Have a few time goals for the race. If work, life, illness, or injury got in the way of training, save your original time goal for another day.
Good luck! Enjoy the journey. My favorite finish line is the next one that I get to cross!
– Ty Renbarger