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April 27, 2017

10 Tips for Race Week

Written by Jennifer Van Allen

After all the time and effort you invested in training, you want your hard work to pay off on race day.  Here are 10 tips to keep in mind in the final days before the big day. jva_2racing

1. Hydrate. Dehydration can make even an “easy” pace feel harder. Consume plenty of water in the days before the race.  Sip fluids in small doses throughout the day to avoid stomach upset. 

2. Stick to familiar foods. Avoid the temptation at the expo to test out new sports foods and drinks. Stick to foods that have given you a boost during training without upsetting your stomach.  Avoid any new foods or ingredients to avoid GI distress.

3. Stick to the training plan. In the days before the race, it’s tempting to cram in extra mileage or intense workouts to propel yourself to a PR. That’s not a good idea.  You can’t boost your fitness at this point—you only risk injury.  Use the time to rest, run easy, and get plenty of shuteye. You want to feel springy and energetic, and ready to unleash all the strength, and speed you worked so hard to develop.

4. Don't diet...Some runners attempt to cut back on calories during the taper, as they cut back their miles. But in the days before the race, you want to be building up your stores of glycogen so that you can have them to burn during the race. If you’re training for a half-marathon or a marathon, aim to get 70% of your daily calories from carbs in the final three days of your race. If you try to restrict calories, you could end up at the starting line feeling depleted and fatigued.

5. ...But don't get carried away with carb-loading. Other runners use the race as an excuse to eat with abandon. That can lead to GI distress, a heavy-legged feeling at the starting line, and a race that's derailed by emergency pit stops.

6. Review the course. Review the race route and course elevation, or if you can, drive or run on stretches of the course. Take mental notes on where you’ll have to push and where you can cruise. Visualize yourself crossing the finish line feeling composed, strong, and exhilarated.

7. Gather your tried-and-trusted gear.  Resist the temptation to use or wear something new for the special occasion of race day.  A gear or clothing malfunction before or during the race can rock your focus and derail the day you’ve worked so hard to prepare for.  Plan to race in the shoes, apparel, gear, and gadgets that have been reliable in training.

8. Review your logistics.  What are your plans for picking up your race packet? How will you get to the race in the morning and get home afterwards? Where will you park? Make a plan for race weekend, write it down, and stick to it. Spending time to nail down these logistics will help relieve stress on free up energy you need to focus.

9. Reflect on your training. Add up all the miles you logged to train for this big event. Take note of all the times you pushed yourself out the door for a tough workout when you would have rather stayed in. Draw confidence from all that you accomplished on the way to the starting line. Take time to reflect on the major milestones you hit—say the first time you completed a mile, achieved a new personal best, or hit a pace that once felt impossible. Use those memories and that pride to fuel your confidence heading into race day.

10. Reset your goals.  Have a few time goals for the race. Consider how your training went,  how healthy you feel, and any niggling aches and tweaks you may have developed along the way. If work, life, illness or injury got in the way of training, save your original time goal for another day. And be sure to set process goals for the race, which aren’t tied to the numbers on the finish-line clock. You might aim to run up the hills you previously walked, or try to do a negative split—that is, finish the second half the race faster than the first half.

Good luck!

After you cross the finish line, be sure to tell us about your training and racing experience. Share your story here. 

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