Kelly the Culinarian: 6 Tasks for the 6 Days Before Your Race

Sunday, August 4, 2013

6 Tasks for the 6 Days Before Your Race

During my glorious afternoon run, I fixated on lovely ladies of the Zooma Chicago Half Marathon Challenge. This group of aspiring athletes will take on their first half marathon on Saturday after training diligently for the past three months. As their program manager, it's been my job to help them on their journey. Now, all the work is done and it's time to reap the rewards on race day.  I was thinking about what last-minute advice I had for the ladies and realized it might be useful to more than just them.

Regardless of the race distance or type, there are certain things I do before every event to ensure my success. Here are the steps to my ritual that make sure I get it right.

Sleep: You're doing it right
1. Hydrate. Your water bottle should be a constant companion at this point. On the day before a race, I might add a few dill pickles to my afternoon snack to try and force my body to retain more water I can sweat out later.

2. Sleep. Most people won't sleep well the night before a race, and it won't make or break you. Instead, try to start your evening routine an hour earlier through the week to try and bank the extra hours. It also gives your body a little extra time to heal and recuperate.

3. Visualize. It may sounds hokey, but it's important to think about yourself completing all the necessary steps of the race and doing so comfortably. For a triathlon, I will mentally walk through all my transitions to make sure I have everything and have thought about the order I need to do things in - take off wet suit, put on shoes, click on helmet, put on sunglasses, unrack bike, etc. For a running race, I'll spend a few quiet moments daily picturing myself running pain-free with proper form. I'll think about crossing the finish line and what time will flash on the clock above my head and how great it will feel.
Packing for Ragnar - I hope your race
doesn't require toilet paper

4. Stick with what's safe. Do not try to cram in any extra training, try a new fuel or buy new shoes. Now is not the time to experiment with how fast you can run a mile or try a new Indian buffet for lunch. Stick with everything tried and true and absolutely nothing new.

A list helps
5. Plan. Figure out the 24 hours around the race, including what time you'll have to leave work, how you'll pick up your packet, how you'll get to the start line, where you'll park, what you'll eat the night before and morning of, what you'll eat during the race and what you'll do in the 15 minutes after the race. My priorities are always water and a cold towel, if need be, then snacks and stretching. The idea is to reduce your stress as much as possible by removing as many of the unknown factors as possible.

6. Pack. I put a laundry basket in my living room and chuck all the things I'll need for a race into it as I think of it. The night before, I'll visualize myself head to toe and think of everything I'll need from a headband or visor down to my socks and shoes. Pro tip: If there's gear check and you plan to stay for the after party, pack a dry outfit, flip flops and a wet washcloth in a ziploc bag. That way, you can pick up your gear bag, swab down with the wash cloth and change clothes so you don't feel so gross hanging around and enjoying all that the vendors and race organizers have to offer.


Unknown said...

Great list and put shortly and easy to follow!
Also, visualize yourself crossing that finish line at an amazing time and believe in yourself and training!

Jamie said...

Those are great tips! Hydrating, getting sleep two nights before the race (since the night before is so difficult for most) is really important! Also, trying to stay off of your feet at the expo/packet pickup the day before is crucial too. I hope they all have a great race!