Working out what to do during race week can sometimes be a daunting task. Depending on what your event is, you might have started to taper before race week, so you could have already started to think about preparing for your run. But there is more to race week than just what training to do.
Here are my tips for race week:
Don’t over taper: Reduce your training volume, but not the intensity of your runs. You definitely need fresh legs for your race, but doing too little will probably have the opposite effect, and you could end up feeling sluggish on race day. The best approach is to reduce your volume so you won’t be heavy or tired, but include some race pace work to remind your legs what they will be doing on the day.
Get a lot of sleep: The night before your race won’t always be the best sleep you ever have. You might be nervous, have trouble falling asleep or have to wake up early. Make sure you get plenty of sleep on the few nights before the race so you are well rested.
Drink lots of water: It’s important to stay well hydrated in the days leading up to your race, especially if you are running a long distance or in a hot climate.
Get all your gear ready: You don’t want to leave everything to the night before, or realise when you are getting dressed on race morning that your favourite top is in the wash. Earlier in the week, get your clothes out, make sure they are clean, collect anything else you need (gels, belt, socks, cap, hydration pack), and get it all ready to go.
Plan how you will get to the start: Look into public transport options if you are using that to get to the start, and make sure services are operating as normal. If you are walking to the start, make sure you know the way and how long it will take so you don’t end up going further than you need to. If you are driving, check out where to park, it can be stressful driving around in circles looking for a spot!
Check what to do with your bag: If you are planning to wear a jacket to the start or need a change of clothes for later, make sure you know what the bag drop situation is. With some races, you might need to drop it off before the day.
Relax: Telling people to relax can often have the opposite effect, but ideally you will minimise your stress levels in the days before your race. If you are travelling interstate or to another city, this could mean taking a day off work to arrive early. If your race is close to home, try not to plan too much for the week before the race, especially if it involves physical activity. You can also do things that will help you switch off for a few hours, like watch a movie.
Don’t do anything new: Try not to do anything you haven’t done before, like introduce boot camp to your weekly schedule for the first time or try and adventurous new food (especially if you are racing overseas and are tempted by the local cuisine). You don’t know how your body will react to something new, and in case it doesn’t react well, it’s better to save those things for after your race.
Don’t let the nerves take over: Stick to your normal routine as much as possible to keep mind occupied and not thinking too much about your race! A good balance is necessary, you want to spend some time thinking about your race plan and getting ready for the event, but you don’t want it to consume you. Going about your normal week as much as possible will help you focus on other things aside from just your race!
Get your bib: Or go to the expo! Some races will involve a mandatory expo visit to collect your bib, but even if you don’t have to do that, visiting the expo can be fun. There is often a buzz at the event as excitement builds, and opportunities for photos and to chat to other runners. You can also pick up some bargains, because runners can never have enough gear!
Enjoy it: While we all want to achieve our goals, racing is only a small amount of the running we do. You want to enjoy the training and not put too much pressure on yourself for race day. The best thing you can do is get to the start line feeling confident that you are prepared as possible. If you have done that, then enjoy the lead up. The race is a bonus after all your hard work. Trust in your training, enjoy the excitement around the race, and get ready to go out and get your result.
Read more – tips for dealing with nerves the day before a race.