You have completed your last long run. You have no more hill training left to do and sprints have become a thing of the past. It must be the week before the Around the Bay! Congratulations for making it this far in your training program, which can often be harder than the race itself. If you have put in the work and dedication to your program, you have a great opportunity to accomplish your goal.
The week before race day is one of the most important weeks in your program. Although your physical training has come to an end your mental preparation is at a peak. Preparation and strategy for a race is equally as, if not more important than physically running it. Whether it is your first or longest race, trust in the fact that your body is physically prepared to run. Once you have confidence there are many tips and tricks to make this the best race of the year. Here are some of my favorites. Give them a shot and best of luck!
1. Wake time: The race starts at 8:30 or 9:30 depending on the group. The entire week before be ready, showered and dressed by 8:30. This gets the body and brain thinking about race day. There is nothing worse than feeling tired on race day morning.
2. Epsom Salts– Many runners use Epsom salts as a way of flushing toxins from the body. Draw a warm bath with roughly 1 cup of salt in the bath. Sit in the bath for 15-20 minutes to allow the salt to draw toxins from the body. Dizziness and dehydration can result from these baths, and therefore should not be used the night before the race. To avoid negative side affects during the bath drink a large glass of water and cold towel on the back of your head. If you have blood pressure problems, be sure to consult a physician before using Epsom salts.
3. Fluids – The week before race day cut out alcohol. If you are a coffee drinker, the week before race day is not time to give it up. Continue to have your morning coffee, including race day. Failure to do this can lead to poor performance. Lastly, carry a one liter bottle around for the entire week, to ensure you will be adequately hydrated.
4. Breakfast – Yes you do have to eat before the race, and race gels don’t count! I suggest eating the same breakfast all week long. Be sure to eat 1.5-2 hours before the race to allow for proper digestion and avoidance of cramping. Make the breakfasts similar to those you have been eating throughout your training. The worst thing you can do is eat something completely different, especially if you already have a sensitive stomach.
5. Treatment – Be sure to see a therapist before and after your race. Soft tissue work will make sure tissue is pliable and allows you to work out “kinks” before the big day. The best day for appointments is Wednesday, which allows you a couple of days to recovery from the treatment. Following the race allow yourself 2 days before treatment. Getting a treatment, especially aggressive, the day following the race can lead to more harm.
6. Nutrition – Hopefully you have worked nutrition into your training program. Be sure that you take your favorite gels or race snacks with you. Do not rely on ones given out by race organizers as they may not agree with your stomach. This is a very common mistake, especially for first time racers.
7. Music – This is simple make sure you have a place list organized of your favorite songs. Try and organize songs to give you a boost at important parts of the race. There are even websites that will list the most popular songs to play to maintain a specified race pace!
8. Support/Family – You have accomplished a lot and have various reasons for it. Whether this was a weight loss journey, a new challenge or a personal best be sure you have someone there to share it with at the finish line. Often people take for granted the magnitude of finishing this race. It’s a big deal and everyone should be there to acknowledge that!!!
9. Post race plans – You need sugar and electrolytes as soon as you cross the finish line. Soon after that you need a balanced meal including protein, fats and carbohydrates. Be sure dinner plans are made ahead of time, and take time to celebrate your finish.
10. Pacing – Although this is obvious and simple, it is the most ignored. The first 20 km of this race are relatively flat. If you let race adrenaline and the excitement get to you, you will go out too fast. The last 10 km are hills with some monsters. This can cause you to hit a wall and drop out quickly. I say this every year and people still ignore. STICK TO YOUR PLANNED PACE!
Conor Collins is a Sports Injury Therapist and Active Release Therapy provider at the Foot Knee Back Clinic in Ancaster, Ontario. For more information visit www.conorpcollins.com or call 905-304-6556.