Spring is just around the corner and that means that racing season is approaching quickly. As the snow begins to melt and the days become longer, it’s easy to feel a sense of rejuvenation that comes with the season. BUT NOT SO FAST! Don’t get too confident with your winter aerobic fitness and strength gains. Remember to take into consideration all that goes into racing. Below is a list of pointers that you can use to ensure that you are the best prepared (as you can be!) on race day.
Know your course and practice for it
Understand the course profile, and know that the little lines moving up and down don’t account for everything (a small looking bump at mile 25 in your marathon may feel like climbing Mt. Everest)! Look at the number of turns (switchbacks if on the trail) which can throw off your momentum, get an idea on the terrain, look at past results or ask a friend who has done the course to get an idea of what your finishing time may be. Is your course all (or mostly downhill)? Practicing downhills will help prepare you for the muscular fatigue that you will see on race day. What is the typical weather (and even worst case) to know if you need to start to acclimatize your body and mentally prepare for the heat, cold, dry, or humidity.
Practice in your race day kit
Even though a lot of shoes today have minimal break in periods, it’s still best to have run in them before race day. I typically like putting in at least 50-100miles on them before race day. I remember one time when I wore new shoes out of the box. The insoles were too fresh and I ended up getting a large blister from the friction between my sock and the insole. It was a very painful lesson learned that I will never do again.
Will there be any required gear either at the start due to weather (cold mornings) or mandated by the race? Do you need a drop bag or change of clothes? Know this and make sure you have it all prepared ahead of time so you are not rushing race week or day.
Race day Nom Noms
Dial in your race day nutrition. Be knowledgeable with how many aid stations and what they provide on course, the distance between stations, and what that means for how much you need to have on you in terms of cal/hr will be key in execution. Nutrition can become complicated especially when race day conditions can vary from training conditions. Having a general plan and being flexible with where your energy comes and your water and electrolyte intake can be important to race day success
Race day hype and environment
It is good to know the atmosphere you are entering for race weekend and where you get your energy from. If you signed up for a large marathon, know that there will be a lot of people, large crowds, and carve yourself time for re-energizing, if you are someone who needs it. It can be easy to get caught up in the race day excitement no matter who you are and you will have extra energy from tapering, but don’t waste it in the day(s) before.
There are many ways to prepare yourself for success. Knowing and understanding what could happen on race day will help you be ready for success no matter if things don’t go to plan. Going through the physical and mental preparation beforehand makes smaller decisions or adjustments on race day that much easier.