You’ve put in the work and now it’s time to get paid. There isn’t really anything you can do from a training standpoint in the final week or weekend leading up to your race, but there are a few tips that can improve your overall race experience. This race week prep works for races of all distances, virtual and “real” but should be adapted based upon the race type, your goals and your experience.
1. Get your sleep! This is especially important 2 nights before the race. If you are like most runners, you won’t sleep much the night before the big day, so if you can bank some extra zzzz’s 2 nights before, you’ll increase your chances of having a successful race.
2. Rest your legs. This doesn’t mean take the whole week before the race off…heck no! You still need to move, but keep the runs shorter and include 4 or 5 strides (15-20 seconds fast) at the end of each short run to work on those fast-twitch muscles. Most plans will suggest doing nothing 2 days before the race and then the day before, do a short (20 min) easy run with a few strides to wake the legs back up. This ensures they are rested but still know how to run come race morning.
3. Fuel up. No, you don’t need to head to the all-you-can-eat buffet the night before the race. Quite the opposite. Make sure you are eating good quality foods throughout your training, but especially in the days leading up to your race. Your pre-race dinner should be what you’ve been eating for all your long runs. I’ve had my best half marathons with a chicken sub from subway the night before, but that’s just me. For a 5k or even a 10k, you don’t need to “carb load”. On race morning, eat the same breakfast you’ve eaten before all your long runs and try to eat about 2 hours before the race. If you never drink coffee before a run, race morning isn’t the day to try it. Trust me. Work on hydration the entire week leading up to the race. Limit alcohol as this can be dehydrating; however, I know one particular Shrinking Jeans writer who drinks a beer the night before every big race, but I’m not naming names and I don’t advocate this for everyone.
4. Nothing new on race day.
5. That bears repeating. Nothing…I said NOTHING new on race day. No new foods, no new hydration (don’t try Gatorade if you’ve only ever had water). Don’t buy a new pair of shorts or fuel belt at the expo and expect to be happy when you are done with your race. Chafing isn’t pretty, people, an neither are tummy troubles.
6. Do not wear the race shirt for the race. Not only will you be labeled as a newb, but this violates rules 4 and 5. Just don’t do it.
7. Know where to go. For a virtual race, you will be running when you want and where you want. However, if you have registered for an official race, make sure you get there early and line up where you are supposed to line up. Nothing frustrates runners more than other runners who don’t line up in the proper pace areas. If you aren’t sure where you should line up, please ask.
8. Have fun!!! Talk to other runners. Soak in the race vibes. Dance to a little Eminem while you wait for the gun to go off. Enjoy the miles. You’ve worked hard for this and now it’s time to play.
You’ve done the homework and you’re ready to take the test. Now go get that A!
What’s the best (or worst) bit of advice you’ve been given leading up to a race?