by Tricia Minnick
Race week advice from a non-elite, non-coach, non-professional running mom who has had plenty experience doing the “wrong” thing race week.
You have been training for months. You’ve reluctantly left your warm bed at the crack of dawn to run. You’ve turned down social plans because you had to run early the next morning. You’ve yammered to your friends and family about your running to the point they’ve finally decided they had better start running too just to shut you up. Each weekend you’ve run longer than the weekend before and each time you hit a new distance you were in awe at the things you and your body can accomplish. In short-you’ve poured your soul, sweat and probably tears into training for this race. And now, you’ve made it to race week.
Welcome to race week, don’t screw it up.
Ok, I say that somewhat jokingly. Most likely if you’ve completed 80% of your training plan and go into the race uninjured than barring a unicorn falling from the sky and crushing you on course (hey-don’t mock my running nightmares), you will finish fine. But there are a few tips for race week that I can share, things I’ve had to learn the hard way from experience. See how self sacrificing I am? I screwed up so you don’t have to.
1. Nothing new
Odds are you’ve already heard that wearing something new for race day is a bad idea. You want to race in the clothes and shoes you’ve been training in. BUT lets extend that to nothing new on race week. Now is not the time to get a wild hair up your you know what and decide you’re now a barefoot runner. I’m not knocking it (in fact,it’s not unusual to see me doing barefoot drills for strengthening) but lets leave that kind of tinkering for the weeks after the race.
2. Nothing new
Oh, am I repeating myself? I just want to be clear that “nothing new” extends beyond clothes. Don’t wear new clothes, don’t try a new running form, don’t pick up a new workout, don’t take a new route to work and whatever you do-DON’T TRY NEW FOOD. Seems obvious, but people often overlook this. As an example, a “friend” thought Indian food the day before a race would be a good idea. I thought it would clean me errrr…I mean she thought it would clean her out the day before the race so she wouldn’t have any extra porta potty stops come race day. Let’s just say that backfired…somewhat literally. Moving on. Eat the foods that got you through training.
3. Hydrate, wait stop drinking, now drink some more, wait not too much
Back in my beginner days the words “hydrate, hydrate, hydrate” were drummed into my head. So come race week I made it my mission to drink as much as I could. No way I was going to let months of training go down the drain because I hadn’t had enough water. So I drank water like it was my job. Yeah, I drank too much water. So much so that I felt swollen and dizzy come race day. Learn from my mistakes. Carry a water bottle with you this week, sip it as you feel thirsty but don’t force it and maybe toss a Nuun tab in there to keep those electrolytes balanced.
4. Rest, but don’t stress if you don’t
Everyone is going to be telling you to rest this week and they are right. But I’m going to be honest with you-you won’t sleep the night before the race. You’ll be laying in your hotel room doing everything possible to sleep but will be so keyed up for the race that sleep won’t come. Don’t stress it, just anticipate it. Know that you probably won’t sleep race night so start resting now. Sleeping in the days leading up to race-eve is more important than race night. So no all nighters this week, save the partying for after the race-you’ll have plenty to celebrate then.
5. Don’t freak out
Welcome to race week is a kind way of saying “Welcome to taper hell”. You’ve been ramping up miles for months and now, suddenly you’re running very little. And for some strange reason those comparatively short runs suddenly feel so. dang. hard. You’re having doubts about your training plan, you swear you’ve gained ten pounds and suddenly you have the emotional fortitude of a toddler. Tapering is fuuuuuuun. I’m here to talk you down from the ledge. It’s normal to feel this way. The best thing you can do is light a candle, grab a romance novel and a glass of wine and take a bubble bath. Unless that’s outside of your normal routine then refer back to #1 and #2. Sheesh, aren’t you listening? NOTHING NEW. Watch some trashy TV, call your girlfriend, do something that normally soothes you. Trust your training plan and assure your husband that his normally sweet wife will return after the race. You’ll get through this. Come Thursday and Friday packet pickup will be here and suddenly the crankiness will transform into excitement…and nerves.
6. Have fun
This one is self explanatory. You’ve put in the miles, now it’s time to celebrate with a race. Happy running!