The Best Race Week Prep

by Candace Thomas, ZTEX Ambassador

It’s officially race week for the ZOOMA Texas run. This Saturday, 1,000+ runners will take on the hills of Austin hill country, putting their training and grit to the test on the gorgeous and challenging course. The week leading up to a race is exciting! Even though I ran the half marathon course last year, every run is a new run and it’s important to plan and prepare each time. My main rule is: Stick to the Plan, otherwise known as Don’t Try Anything New. This goes for exercise, food, clothes – you name it. The week leading up to a race is a time for consistency and making good choices. Here are 5 ways you can set yourself up for success this week.

1. Running & Cross Training
Your training program will likely reduce the number of workouts this week to allow your body optimum rest, but it’s important not to drop all your runs or workouts. I like to take a yoga class two days before the race to stretch my muscles and focus my mind. That new rowing class you heard about, or the stair run all your friends are doing? Try it NEXT week. This week, stick to what your body knows, keep up your intensity, and train with confidence but care.

2. Clothing
Check the weather and pack for any unexpected cold or warm fronts that may come through. Many mornings can start with a chill in the air but quickly warm up, so be careful not to overdress. Be sure you tested the race day outfit you are going to wear–you don’t want any seams or ill-fitting waistbands to distract you on the course. Check (and double check) that you have your shoes, socks, undergarments, sports bra, top, headphones, music device, hair band (bring extras!), visor or hat, sunglasses, etc. Try on your outfit the night before and pin on your number in the mirror in an area on your abdomen that won’t disrupt your stride. Another tip is keep your shoes sensible this week and don’t risk a turned ankle or blister from a pair of new heels (true story, sadly).

3. Eating
This is not the week to branch out of your comfort zone.  Remember: Stick to the Plan. You don’t want to risk gastro-distress, especially not the night before the race. Some runners like to carbo-load with a big plate of pasta, but I like to eat light and fresh so I don’t feel too heavy. A big salad with a bowl of vegetable soup is a perfect meal for me. Without a doubt, save any alcoholic beverages for the AFTER celebration. The morning of the race is important to have your meal planned out and ready to go. Your nerves may be hopping, but it’s so important to get some healthy calories in you so you have the energy to run strong. My favorite meal is a banana and a small portion of oatmeal. I wake up extra early so I have time to eat and digest a little before race time. A protein rich shake, avocado toast, and energy bar are all great options.

4. Confirming Logistics
Carefully read through the emails from race coordinators about start times and locations. The day before your race, drive or walk by the the starting line. Figure out where to park (and where alternative parking is located, in case it’s full) ahead of time. At the Expo, ask any last minute questions you may have, and check out the race maps they have posted. Determine a meet up point near the finish line to reunite with your cheering squad, and have a plan for what you are doing post-race. You will be full of euphoria and likely physically (and emotionally) exhausted, so you will appreciate having a plan in place. My advice: stretching, celebrating, and a trip around the lazy river in the pool.

5. Visualizing
Besides proper training, this may be the most important step I take–visualizing success. I close my eyes and imagine myself crossing the finish line. I imagine seeing myself saying the words, “I did it!”. There are many times during a race that you may have self-doubt sneak up on you, so be sure not to let any of these thoughts creep into your mind pre-race. Fill yourself up with positive energy and confidence. You CAN do this and you WILL do this. Simple as that!

Fellow runners, the week we’ve all looked forward to for months is finally here! I wish you all a successful race, whether it’s setting a new PR or crossing the finish line with a smile on your face. Run hard, run strong, HAVE FUN!

Author Candace Thomas is an ambassador for ZOOMA Texas and founder of lifestyle blog Luxe…With Kids where she spots and shares tips and trends in fitness, fashion, home & travel for the whole family. Follow along with her adventures on Instagram and Facebook.