You’ve done all the training, paid your entry fee, booked accommodation and now it’s only a couple of days ahead of the big day. This is the period that can make or break your race-day performance. Get things wrong and all those early morning runs, rainy day slogs and putting up with training aches and pains will have been for little. So here are a few tips to help make sure you get your preparation right and the most out of yourself once the starters gun fires.
The most important thing in the days leading into your race is to get as much rest as possible. Be it staying off your legs during the day by minimising how busy you are, or getting a couple of hours of extra sleep each night, the best way to freshen up and recover is to do nothing…or as close to nothing as possible!
Now this doesn’t mean you go drinking so much you end up waking five times during the night to pee! The process of hydrating before a big race starts a couple days before kick-off. Carry a bottle of water or an electrolyte drink around with you during the day and sip away at it. We’re big fans of Hydralyte as it’s a nice balance of electrolytes, magnesium and important nutrients without the sugar.
Get a Massage
The better you feel, the better you generally run. And one way to ease sore muscles is to get a rubdown a couple days ahead of racing. Don’t get a really hard rubdown as it may leave you sorer than when you went in. Instead, get a moderate massage to flush out some of the garbage and soften the legs. Just make sure you have a light jog and drink plenty afterwards.
Fuelling up ahead of a race doesn’t necessarily mean you should eat more and overdose on carbs. It’s best to simply maintain a relatively normal diet with a reduction in junk food, a slight increase in carbs and the night before the race – nothing too heavy or spicy. In terms of food intake, in the 48 hours before racing avoid having one of those days where you forget to eat until dinner and then feel flat.
One of the things the great runners do is to visualise how they want race-day to unfold. From putting on the numbers to how the course unfolds, every part of the process should be mentally rehearsed. This helps remove some of the stress and nerves associated with racing. It makes you more relaxed by removing a little of the unknown and helps you stay in the moment and not so frantic while racing.
Memorise the Course
Studying the course notes and familiarising yourself with the route is one of the most important things you can do. Know what the course markings look like, where to expect turns and hills, as well as the location of feed stations. This helps with planning your food/water intake and hopefully will mean you don’t take a wrong turn and get lost!
Get all your race-day kit organised and in place well in advance. Pin your numbers on and test-drive your outfit to make sure it’s comfy. Get your gels, hydration and other gear packed and ready to go the night before so there’s less to think about early in the morning when the butterflies are doing their best to put you off.