Countdown to Race Day
From the local 5k to a half marathon close enough to drive to the morning of or the gargantuan 30,000+ runner marathon, there are all kinds of races out there to run. Runners sign up for races for any number of reasons. Other than normal race day anticipation is the anxiety that comes with the decision to race a race. Whether that means trying for a PR, trying to win an award, or trying to come back from a setback with a certain time, the decision to race a race changes not only your training, but your headspace. Not including actual training, the countdown to a race starts more than just a few days before. Here’s what you should keep in mind when planning for race day.
A Month Out
With a month to four weeks out from a race, most runners should be at the highest mileage week in their training plan. This also may include the toughest speed workout in the training plan as well. Making sure that rest is included in this week is often an afterthought. If at all possible, plan for naps and downtime this week. Even a quick 20 minutes of shut eye will help ensure muscles are repairing and mindset is resetting. Runners use their mind as much as their body, it can get tired too.
Remember to trust the plan. Do not start adding miles or intensity either. Go over the course map and make sure you are aware of anything that could cause unique circumstances during the race like running under a river in a tunnel (loss of GPS) or running over a bridge over a river (strong wind gusts). If you are traveling out of town, book your hotel room.
Two Weeks Out
Stock up on any sports drinks, gels, beans and anti-chafe products you might need. The last thing you want to be doing the day or week before the race is running around trying to find Body Glide because your normal place is out of it.
Get online and review your race confirmation. Make sure all the information is correct and that you know the start time and location. Make sure to have the confirmation someplace easily accessible in case there is any issue at packet pick up.
This is also a good time to test out (or plan out) the travel time from your home or hotel to the start line. For some races, it’s easy to roll up, park, and hop out, while others require taking buses from the parking lot to the start. Ensure you are fully aware of the transportation situation and start formulating your plan and share with any support.
You are in full taper or, at minimum, reduced mileage at this point and will not be on your feet for as long as you normally are. A full week out, make sure to cut those toenails, especially for a longer distance race. Don’t do it the night before. If for some odd reason the clippers slip or your cut too low you’ll want a little time for the soreness to go away. And, ladies, do not go get a pedicure! Those calluses are useful. Save the spa for a post-race treat.
You might also want to evaluate the laundry situation and when you plan on doing it. You’ll want your race outfit not only clean but dry to layout the night before (or two or three if you are traveling). Think head to toe: hat, shirt, sports bra, sleeves, gloves, undies, bottoms, socks and shoes. Rocking something you had to fish out of the dirty clothes is not the way to toe the line.
This is also the prime time to focus on nutrition, while everyone has their own needs a couple of things to keep in mind, ensure that the food ingested this week has a purpose and it is something you want to eat. If the tuna planned for lunch sounds good, do it. Listen to your body’s cues.
48 Hours Before
Whether you’re at your own house or staying a hotel now is the time to make sure race morning nutrition is taken care of in terms of breakfast. If you are staying in a hotel, check to see if location has breakfast available or if there is a store or restaurant nearby. If you are at home, make sure your that the ingredients for your go-to breakfast is on hand. No one wants to wake up on race morning and find out someone ate the last of the peanut butter, bread, jelly or all three.
Layout your flat runner as well as any alternative options if needed depending on the weather forecast. This includes nutrition belts, gels, headphones, etc. If some items can’t be laid in advance, make a list of all items you absolutely cannot leave the house without so you won’t have to scramble before heading out the door. It’ll help the swirling thoughts seem a little more streamline.
Every seasoned runner has their own wonderful race ritual the problem is sometimes the basics can be forgotten. And for a newbie a race can seem overwhelming. It’s never too early to lay out a race plan. And let’s be serious, the countdown to race begins the second you decide you’re going to go for it!