How do you get the most out of yourself when it counts? You train hard, eat right, go to bed, hydrate, recover, refuel, and you want your race result at the end of all this hard work to match up with what you’ve done in preparation. It’s something I’ve struggled with, and I’m sure a lot of runners feel the same way. I find that I’m able to crush workouts and push myself past my limits even when I’m by myself in less-than-ideal conditions. But when it comes to race day, I’ve had very few that align with what I think I can do based on my race preparation. I suppose a bit of that is luck on a day where you’re rested, fueled correctly, in the right race at the right time and the stars align. The days that everything comes together is rare, but the point is to give yourself a chance for success. I do my best to train and prepare to make a great day possible.
Sometimes I am a Fox
Sometimes I am a Lion
Ready to pounce when opportunity arises
I’m still learning how to get the most out of myself on race day, but here are the things I’ve done to prepare when a race is coming up.
- Trust the training; don’t overthink it! Now is not the time to question the build-up. Do the easy runs, fuel properly, and get your body feeling ready to fight.
- Write down fears/truths: I’ve done this a few times this year and it’s really helped me get in a calmer mindset. Even when the race results weren’t ideal or the workout felt like a disaster, writing this stuff down helped me remain calm during times of stress or pain. Example from my training journal this winter:
Fears: I’m not ready. I’m not good enough. It will hurt.
Truths: I prepared the best I could. I’m fit and I’ll find out what I can do. It will hurt, but it won’t kill me.
- Do things that make you feel good (…within reason, of course): I like to cook, bake, read, hang with my dogs, and watch Netflix to take my mind off the race. Pictured below are extremely rare moments of both Hazel and I chilling hard.
- Treat yourself: Get a massage! This always helps me relax the week before a race. Training is hard on your body; you deserve to treat yourself after all those miles!
- Extra attention on recovery modalities: As race day approaches, I’m running less miles and don’t do as much strength work. The focus shifts to more foam rolling, icing daily, stretching, and rest. I write down daily goals to keep myself accountable. Example from my training journal: Don’t get too high or too low. Train SMART. Prep meals the day before. 96 oz water EVERY DAY. Read something daily. Foam roll 5min each morning. Stretch 5min each night. Ice every day this week. Relentless positivity.
- Feel fierce: Plan your race outfit! It seems dumb, but being comfortable and confident goes a long way! I always save my favorites for big workouts or race day, and I get a fresh cut before I leave town. (Try to look cool at home; always photobombed by pets).
- Eat good, feel good. Focus on foods that make you feel strong and healthy. Don’t make any big changes in diet close to your race, and avoid stress eating by keeping healthy snacks around that you LIKE.
- Hydration: Track that water intake! It can be tough to stay hydrated when I’m traveling, so I’m really intentional about how much fluid I take in. Make sure you balance water with electrolytes; my fave is Skratch Passion Fruit Anytime Hydration.
- Travel Day Planning: I wear compression socks on travel day to keep my legs feeling fresh. I carry my foam roller and Roll Recovery R8 in my bag so I can loosen up during any down time. I’m ALWAYS prepared with snacks, so I won’t ever go hungry! I’ve had enough travel delays and hang-ups to make sure I’m never without a good snack. Example: This year I checked my bag on my way back from Seattle, but I missed my flight (100% my fault… I was at the wrong gate) and had to spend the night in the airport with only my backpack. Survived!
I like to make granola or bars to bring with me on trips. I just made On-the-go Rice Balls for the first time, and they might be my new favorite!
- Motivation: Find the little things that get you psyched and mentally prepped for your big day. I drink out of coffee cups from favorite races, look for inspirational quotes that I connect with, and find a mantra for the week/race. Example: Race smart first, race heart when it counts.
Everyone is different in their approach, but these are the things that have helped me prep for my best day. I’m always learning and adjusting, and I can’t wait for the next chance to see what I’ve got. I plan to keep this quote in mind for my next one:
Bravery is acknowledging your fear and doing it anyway.
Happy running, happy racing!