Whether you are running your first 5k or you are an avid marathoner, it’s important to prepare properly before a race. Here are five tips you should be sure to check off of your list the day before and day-of a race.
Stay hydrated throughout the day of the race, and the day before the race to optimize concentration and reduce the risk of injury during performance. Water helps cushion joints and muscles, flush out toxins, deliver nutrients, regulate core temperature and improve brain activity. Try for 5-12 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes during the race, and 16 ounces before the race.
2. Sleep Well
Sleep better, perform better. Adjust your sleeping environment to what personally fits your needs. For example, turn off your phone or the television if they tend to distract you during or before sleep. Adjust your bedroom temperature to what makes you the most comfortable (ignore the heating/cooling bill the week before a race – good sleep is worth it!). Also try a hot bath or shower before you go to bed along with relaxation breathing techniques to slow down your sympathetic nervous system, preparing you for an optimal sleep.
3. Foam Roll
Before a race, use a foam roller prior to an active warm-up. Foam rollers work on your soft tissue which enhances circulation of blood flow through your muscles, increases joint range of motion, removes metabolic waste products (tightness), and assists in fixing muscle imbalances allowing for proper movement patterns. A foam roller can be used on most areas of the body; focus on legs and back before running.
4. Have a Nutrition Plan
It’s important to think about your nutrition before a race to ensure that you are fueling your body properly. Planning out meals for the night before and day-of a race can help your body perform its best.
- Fuel with carbohydrates (about 300 grams of carbs at meals and as snacks). Carbohydrate sources might include: rice, potatoes, corn, squash, fruits and vegetables.
- Moderate fiber intake.
- Go easy on fats.
- Don’t forget to hydrate.
The day of the race:
Eat familiar and easy-to-digest foods. Follow this nutrition timeline to keep yourself fueled:
- 3-4 hours prior to the race:
- Fuel with carbohydrates.
- Incorporate low-fat protein options.
- Go easy on fat and fiber.
- Drink plenty of Fluids.
- 1 hour prior to the race:
- Emphasize liquids and easy-to-digest carbs.
- Avoid protein, fat and fiber.
5. Include an Active, Dynamic Warm-up
An active or dynamic warm-up coordinates all of your moving parts (muscles, ligaments and tendons). An active warm-up ensures immediate range of motion improvement through your joints by actively stretching your muscles, increasing your heart rate, reinforcing great posture and leaving you ready to hit the ground running.
Most of all, try not to stress out about your PR, performance or other race anxieties. Stay calm and excited about what you are about to accomplish. Have a great run.