The Week Before The Race
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
The race is less than a week away. You’ve trained well and despite the blisters, chaffing, sore muscles and sometimes desire to eat everything in sight you are ready. But there are underlying anxieties, you are questioning yourself. Why did I decide to do this? Am I really ready? Can I finish? Will I finish? Is there anything else I need to do?
If you trained well, you are ready. Even if you had to skip a training or two (maybe even more), as long as you hit your longer distances you’re ready. YES you can finish even if you feel you aren’t ready. Will you finish? That is something you must decide. Look at why you decided to do the race in the first place. Were you trying to prove something to yourself? To someone else? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do? Were you doing it to support a friend? No matter what the reason reach down inside and find the true reason. When you find that, you’ll finish and finish well.
Yes, there is more to do this week and it starts with training. You might have noticed on the training calendar that the last four days before the race are listed as REST days. That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t do anything. It means that you need to take it easy. If you want to go for a run or walk go only 3 or 4 miles and make it a gentle training. If you want to go to the gym and weight train lower your weight, do fewer reps, cut back on the number of exercises and go EASY on the legs.
Now, regarding your fueling, otherwise known as eating. You might have heard athletes talk about carb loading. Now this isn’t a license to pig out on pasta, rice and potatoes. What you need to do is just add one or two servings of carbs to your daily diet. Then, on Friday have a carb heavy dinner. Many think this is what you do the night before the race, but all that does is sit heavy and can slow you down a bit. Saturday should be a normal eat day with one or two more carb servings like earlier in the week.
Another, week before necessity is hydrating. Drink, drink, drink! Keep a bottle with you and get in those 8 to 10 glasses of fluid. Notice I didn’t say water. Yes you need to drink water but also juice, sports drink, tea, even coffee are good.
Your final week before requirement entails rest; actual SLEEP! Get what you can now because you might not sleep well the night before the race, so get in the zzzzzz when you can.
So the week is done, you’ve made it over to pick up your packet of race goodies – the shirt, race number (aka bib), timing chip and all those little freebies we love to call shwag. What now? What do you do with all that stuff? Set aside the shirt and the goodies, you can play with those later. It’s time to get everything ready for the race so you don’t have to stress out race morning. First pin your bib to the front of your shirt or pants/shorts leg where it can be seen by race officials and in pictures; then attach the chip to your shoe (just follow directions). Now you’re going to start building a little person. This entails laying out all you are going to need for the race and do it in the shape of a person. So find a flat spot and get out everything. Put your hat, sunglasses, mp3 at the top, then what you will wear (things you’ve worn before) shirt, bra, shorts, undies, your loaded fuel belt, jacket or throw away shirt if it’s cold out, finally socks and shoes. See how it looks like a little you?
Pack your gear bag with something to change into if you want. Set your alarm to give you plenty of time to get things done in the morning and head to bed early, because the morning will start even earlier.
The alarm rings; you get up and you think to yourself, OMG it’s race day! Did you sleep well? No, don’t worry about it many people don’t sleep before a race, you’ll have plenty of energy. A little panic sets in but there’s no need as you have everything set and ready to go. THE RULE OF RACE DAY IS… DO NOTHING NEW! Have your breakfast or get it ready to take with you. Double check to make sure you have what you need – fuel for the course such as gels, gummies, jelly beans, M&Ms, or whatever you have been using as you train; fluid; cell phone to call someone special to say “I DID IT!”; your gear check bag and number; ID, credit card, and cash. Load up the car and head to the race early enough to get a good parking spot. Oh and BREATH!
You’ve made it to the race start area. Time to hit the potties, aim for one line per 3 potties if possible. Check your bag at the gear check area. Stretch a little, walk around to warm up. Do what you normally do before going out for a long training. When it’s announced, head to the start area, if you are slower aim toward the back of the pack, faster move forward. The countdown starts, 3 – 2 – 1 and the gun goes off. NOW WHAT!