Preparing For Your Running Race Day: Simulating Race Day In Advance
How can you prepare for your race-day? How can you prepare for your environment and conditions far in advance of your scheduled race? Here are some ways you can both physically and mentally prepare for what race day will be like:
Running at the Same Time of Your Race
Why is running at the same time during the week as your future race time important? For one thing it helps you maintain the appropriate sleep cycle and schedule. Most races are typically held in the early morning. For me, I’m a morning person. But for some runners, especially who fall in the younger age groups, go to bed later at night and wake up later in the mornings. It’s important to have full energy on race day. It is also important to know how both your mind and body feel during the early morning warming up and at the starting line. See more on “Setting Yourself Up For Early Morning Running Success“.
Along with the time of the race comes temperature. Most temperatures are apparently different in the afternoons, evenings, and at night. Get accustomed to the temperature of your race day environments. For living in San Diego, I run early in the mornings. But I know if I postpone my run for afternoon or evening, I will be getting a much warmer temperature, and if I further postpone my run for night-time, I will encounter little cooler temperatures.
Hard Workout Day Simulations
Hard workouts serve not only the purpose to train your body (hill workout in preparation of hills on the course) but also to train your mind for race-day conditions. Here are some tips on how to use hard workout day simulations to your advantage:
- Eat the same breakfast you would prior to race-day: Know the best foods your digestion system likes way prior to race-day. The best way to do this is to eat on hard workout days what you would exactly eat on race-day. For me, that is often a half piece of whole-wheat bread and a banana. For some of my other runner friends, I’ve heard everything from a bowl of cereal to even eating a couple of gummy bears. See more on “Energy Foods for Running”.
- Warmups, Stretching, and Cooldowns: Prepare yourself for race-day by mimicking what you would do for warmups, stretching, and cooldowns. Get use to the routine and feel comfortable with it.
- Wear the Same Gear You Would On Race Day: Try to wear the same gear you would on race-day: shorts, socks, shoes, headbands, braces, etc. Your body needs to know how this running attire feels during simulated hard workouts. You might find during these workouts that you would opt to change out one or if not more of your race-day attires. Be comfortable first and foremost!
- Do At Least One Course Exposure: Do a quick tempo or brief race simulation by going to the actual course itself. This will prepare you for the running environment and any factors such as running surface you may not have originally even thought about.
- Also, going to the course at the same time you would on race-day helps prepare you once again with getting use to the time of your race and providing enough time for travel arrangements. Know exactly how you are getting to the race and how much time you are allotting for any preparation you need: bag storage, stretching, warming up, bib-pickup, and corral starts. Are you doing a 5k? See “6 Ways to Successfully Prepare for Your First 5k”. If your race is in a different state and you can do a physical course exposure, make sure to absorb the course as much as you can online by retrieving a course map, especially if it has an interactive course map which shows every street or path you’ll be running on accompanied by the mile markers. See the San Diego Half Marathon course map below:
I loved the Philadelphia Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon because of their interactive course map which was indicated by mile markers. Likewise, during hard workouts which should be simulated on similar running surfaces, imagine this course map in your mind. Imagine yourself there on that specific part of the course. This all plays an integral part in mental preparation.
High Altitude Simulations
Is your race in a high-altitude environment or does it include a mountain run? Make sure to get your lungs use to this type of running and the feeling of sometimes having a limited oxygen supply. See more on “Hill Training and the Amazing Effects it Has on Your Running”. What are the ways you may simulate for your upcoming race? Share your tips!