Proper sleep, nutrition, and training are all important points of focus leading up to a race. You might have a specific meal plan or stretch regimen you follow on a daily basis to ensure you’ll deliver an optimal performance the day of the event. But in many cases, a structured training plan needs to be altered for race morning—or even race week. Follow these simple tips to feel as prepared as you can be by the time you approach the starting line.
Don’t be scared to warm up
So many runners—especially new runners—are worried that pre-race warmups will tire them out before the gun even goes off. The truth is that getting your heart rate up—even to the point of a light sweat—and making sure your joints are nice and loose will result in a better quality run. Don’t skimp on this part—do yourself a favor by prepping your muscles and going for an easy jog. And trust me, you won’t wear yourself out. If nothing else, you’ll have adrenaline on your side.
Don’t wait until race day to hydrate
It’s unrealistic--and unwise--to strictly apply every piece of advice for every race distance. For example, preparation and strategy for a marathon differs greatly from a 5K. However, as a general rule, it’s important to be well hydrated by the time you wake up on race day morning, which means it’s important to pay close attention to your water intake the week leading up to the race. If you try to guzzle a bunch of water that morning, you’ll run the risk of having to stop to use the bathroom or, at the very least, feel uncomfortable with too much liquid in your stomach. I personally take only a sip or two to wet my lips before any race and refrain from actually drinking water until afterwards. This no-water method might not work for you, so listen to your body, but do try to be hydrated prior to race day.
Whether you’re a runner or not, proper nutrition is important for making us feel our very best physically and mentally. A lot of runners are diligent about eating a balanced diet from a variety of food groups to make sure they have all of the necessary nutrients and fuel to perform their best. Fiber is an important component to any healthy diet, but when it comes to race day and the few days leading up to it, it could be beneficial to wean off your fiber intake. Fiber adds bulk to your stool and allows things to move quickly and efficiently. This isn’t necessarily a good thing when you’re going for a PR. Not to mention, fiber absorbs water, which can make you feel weighed down or even bloated. One method to avoid that would be to start decreasing your fiber intake the week of the race, and then on race morning, have something simple, light, and low fiber, such as toast and an egg.
Make stretching secondary
Stretching is important in just about every sport. It’s beneficial to have loose, limber muscles in order to prevent injury. The type of stretching you do and the timing of your stretch session are key factors to consider, however, especially on race day. Your first priority shouldn’t be stretching—it should be your warmup. Getting your body and muscles warm through a jog and other light aerobic movements is crucial for a successful run. When you do begin to stretch, it should be dynamic—not static stretching. Static refers to holding particular positions in place, such as a maintained toe-touch hamstring stretch. Dynamic stretches, on the other hand, involve continued motion, such as high knee runs and leg swings. Static stretching is intended to increase range of motion over time, but if done with no warmup and cool muscles, it could do more harm than good and cause injury. Static stretching should be reserved for after the race.
Keep these tips in mind as you get ready for Big Dam Run 2K20! Sign up here!