What to do the Week before your Big Race

 

Seven more days. That’s all that separates me from the 36th MILO Marathon.

While my training has been less than optimal, and I still haven’t tried a time trial for my half marathon for the past week, at this point there’s not much to do but focus on being positive and preparing myself the best way I know how.

Whether you’re running your first 5K or your 100th marathon, race day prep doesn’t just happen the night before. Chances are, you’ve been thinking about and preparing for the race for a long time.  So use the week leading up to the big day to make sure you are ready to run your best race possible.

There are a few key things you should focus on this week: Resting, Eating, Hydrating, and Visualizing.  Enter the “Takbo Printipe – HEVR” method of race-week prep!

The Takbo Printipe – HEVR Guide to Race Week Prep

H = Hydrate!

It’s super important to make sure you are fully hydrated on race day.  But it’s not enough to just chug water the day before — your body won’t be able to absorb all of it.  Instead, focus on providing your body with a steady source of fluids.  If you don’t normally drink a lot of water, start gradually increasing your intake at the beginning of the week.  The goal is to drink enough fluid so that your urine is almost clear.  If you have a hard time remembering to drink water regularly, get yourself a fun water bottle!!  Or…you can try this strategy: for the 3 or so days before, set your watch for 1 hour intervals.  Every time the watch goes off, drink 8 ounces of water (or other fluid of choice).  While you can certainly get away with drinking less if your race is short, this is especially important in any race where you will be running for more than 1 hour.

Also… It’s probably best to start “tapering” your fluid intake around 2 hours before bed…unless you want to be getting up all night long!

E=Eat!

Not this kind of eating 😦

  • Eat plenty of carbohydrate rich foods – As with drinking, you can only sock away so many calories each day. Start increasing the amount of carbohydrates in your meals at the beginning of the week.
  • Don’t over eat – While you want to be increasing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet the week before a race, remember that you’ll be exercising less, so you don’t necessarily need to eat more than normal to carbo-load. Just eat normally throughout the week, favoring starchy foods, and avoiding fatty and sugaring ones.
  • Avoid alcohol – In the days before the race, you should avoid drinking alcohol. (Sorry) It just dehydrates you.

V = Visualize!

Think positive!!  Remember your goals for your race, and spend your time visualizing them, thinking about how you want to run and what you will need to do to reach your goals.  It’s easy to let nerves and anxieties take over in the days leading up to the race, but never under-estimate the power of positive thinking.  If you feel more confident in yourself before the big day, chances are you’ll do better.

The other important part of visualization is to actually view the race course.  If you don’t live close enough to go for a walk/run along the course, look up the course map online and become familiar with the route and any hills, etc.  Sometimes sites will even provide you with a virtual tour.

Finally (and most importantly)…

R = REST!

Don’t try this at work.

Repeat after me: No workout I do this week is going to improve my race performance.

I mean it!

Fight the urge to squeeze in that last minute long-run or speed workout.  You’ve done your preparation. Pushing yourself hard this week will only result in making you more tired, and you risk getting injured.  Unless you’re an elite athlete, during pre-race week, you should definitely subscribe to the “less is more” mentality.

If you’ve been following a training schedule, it should have built in a couple of weeks of tapering, or cutting back on mileage.  Don’t let this decrease in physical activity drive you crazy – instead look at it as a time to relax and prepare yourself both physically and mentally.

The goal this week is just to keep your legs loose.  Go for short runs at a leisurely, enjoyable pace.  And if you skip one or two runs because you’re feeling over-tired, sore, or just need to walk your little puppy, don’t sweat it!

I know some people like to take the day before a big race off, but I actually prefer to rest two days prior and then do a short run (2 – 3 miles) the day before just to get my legs moving.

Finally, resting also means making sure you get enough sleep!  For the past few weeks, I have only been averaging around 6.5 half hours of sleep a night, which is definitely not enough for me.  If I was really smart, I would have started gradually increasing the amount of sleep I got per night a couple of weeks ago, so that all this week I would be averaging 8.  Instead, I will just be focusing on getting a solid 7 – 8 hours every night until race day.  Last night I got about 7 – tonight I’ll be aiming for 8.

Additional tips:

  1. Get a massage – a good massage on the Wednesday or Thursday prior to the race can relax you and loosen you up. Plus it just feels good.
  2. Focus on pace work and short speed – Rather than going out logging big miles the week before the race, I always suggest short runs that focus on internalizing your race pace. I also like to see runners do short/fast speed work to keep their legs fresh, without tiring themselves out. A good example of a workout like this would be: 4x400M or 4-6 laps of 200M hard/200M easy. Keep the workouts short and sweet.
  3. Have all of your gear prepared the day or two before the race – Get this out of the way, so you know that you have everything and that you don’t have to worry about it at the last minute.
  4. Don’t rush yourself on race morning – Get up with a reasonable amount of time to allow yourself to wake-up, eat, and get your pre-race bathroom trips out of the way.

Good luck to all the MILO participants. See you all in July 29!

Related Links: 

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/exercises/race-day-is-approaching-how-should-you-be-preparing.html#b

http://www.seven30runner.com/race-preparation/

http://www.examiner.com/article/countdown-to-race-day-how-to-prepare-the-week-before-your-race

http://www.ehow.com/how_1000_prepare-week-marathon.html

http://www.runningtools.com/preparation.htm

 

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