Make sure you are well rested.
No last-minute cram training in the days leading up to the race. Remember DOMS sets in 48 hours post exercise, until this time your body is in repair mode and wont be at full function or strength. Try to keep active in the days leading into the race but keep exercise gentle and low intensity. Of course there are exceptions to this rule and some short high intensity bouts of exercise that don’t cause fatigue have been found to be beneficial.
Fill the fuel tank.
As with coming in rested, your body needs to be fuelled. Make sure you have eaten and drunk enough in the days before. AND avoid high fibre, high fat foods…stomach issues are a disappointing end to a race. Pick your fuel according to your race. Is it a long race? Will it take over an hour? Do you need to replenish during the event? Will you need to pre-load your body before the day?
Stay hydrated- once you are feeling thirsty you’ve missed your cues to drink and your body is already depleted. While you are racing this is a difficult thing to get back in front of. Alternatively don’t drink too much, over hydration has detrimental effects too.
Stick with what works.
Don’t try anything new. No brand new shoes, no new clothes and definitely no new food or drink. Try everything out before the event. Running with blisters or swimming with fogged up goggles is distracting and will take away from the enjoyment of the day.
Get some sleep.
8 hours of sleep the night before an event is ideal. There is no need to go to bed too early, there is nothing worse than tossing and turning in bed knowing you should be asleep! AND if you don’t get a great nights rest, don’t worry too much. Research suggests one bad night before an event won’t have much effect on race day performance.
Have your race day kit ready. Lay out your clothes, pin on your race number, pack your bags. Do everything you can to make race morning stress-free. You’ll be nervous enough and don’t need to waste energy worrying where your shoes are.
Don’t stand still in the start pen. Move your arms in circles, bounce on your toes or keep walking. Don’t hold stretches for longer than 3-5 seconds, instead get your blood pumping and the muscles you are about to use moving.
Take it easy.
When the gun goes off, don’t get caught up in the hype. Even when everyone around you takes off a million miles an hour, resist temptation. You’ll likely catch them as they run out of puff at the first turn. Better to start slow and build up than to go out too hard and feel like you won’t finish.
Finally, smile. You are doing the event because you want a challenge, there will be times it won’t feel easy but the finish line will make it all worthwhile. You are doing the event for fun, so make it fun. Allow yourself to get caught up in the atmosphere, wave to your supporters, give the kids watching high 5’s and pose for the photographers on course. Be proud of what your body is achieving, whatever that may be.
Good luck! Get out there and #loveyourlife.