It’s Time to Practice Your Race Day Plans
By Terrence Mahon
Today is September 3, 2010 and whether we want to admit it or not – summer is practically over. This means that autumn is fast approaching and with it comes all of the great fall road races.
Especially relevant are the half marathons and marathons that stand as the high point of so many of our running programs. Whether you have been training through the summer months for your upcoming 13.1 mile race or for the full 26.2 miler – now is the time to fine tune those race plans so that nothing is a surprise as your big event nears.
When it comes to getting it right on race day, there is nothing better than a good dress rehearsal. As we say in Mammoth… “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” Time will be well spent if you use these next few weeks to find out what works and what doesn’t. Whether it is choosing what pair of shoes to race in, what your pre-race meal should be or what flavor of gel to take out on the course – nothing will beat some good old-fashioned field tests to give you the definitive answers you need that will lead to a solid peace of mind.
If you want to make your race weekend as stress-free as possible, then create a checklist of all the questions you have about the event as well as all the things you need to get done before you hit the road. Below is a sample list of things you should consider handling over the next few weeks. Some of them are pretty simple – such as getting your travel plans sorted out. Others may need a few test runs.
Normally it takes a trial test of 2 or 3 long runs to really nail down what combination of fluids and fuel (example: sports gels) work best for your stomach while maintaining the energy you need to avoid the bonk. It is best to start sooner than later so that when it gets to your taper phase you really can rest and recover instead of worrying about if you are going to get blisters from those new shoes. This list is in no way all-inclusive, but it provides a starting point by going over the major agenda items you will want to have answers to in order to feel like you have everything covered.
Race Prep Checklist:
- Pre-Race Meal – What type of food will you eat the night before the race? Where? When?
- Race Day Breakfast – What? When? How much?
- Race Day Fluids & Fuel Plan – What types of drinks & gels? How much & how often?
- Travel – Setting up lodging, travel and dinner plans for race weekend
- Equipment Checklist – Shoes, Tops, Bottoms, Socks, Hat, Gloves, Sunglasses
- Race pace goals – What is your goal pace? Have you done the necessary training to affirm that pace? If not, what is your current fitness goal pace?
- Training Program – Fine tuning the last training cycle to suit your needs. More speed-work? More long runs? More miles? More recovery?
- Visualizing Race Day – Pre-race nervousness & excitement, getting to the starting line, running out on the course.
If you can answer the above questions with good certainty, then you are well on your way to having a great race – congratulations as you have prepared well.
If you have answers for most of the questions, but still need to finalize a few plans – don’t worry, you still have plenty of time to get it sorted out. Use this time wisely and you too will be ready to have a stress free race weekend.
If you have not worked on any of those questions above, then I would like to suggest that you take a moment to think about them and begin to formulate a plan. You may not know all the answers, but working on them now will give you plenty of time to seek advice from those that have the answers to these questions.
Knowledge is king. The more you know what to expect on race day the more at ease you will be in the race. Feeling free of stress over those last few days before a race does wonders to your mental state. It will allow you to truly embrace the weekend, as the race is meant to be a celebration for all the work that you have done to get you there.
Dot those “I’s” and cross those “T’s” now. You will be glad you did when it comes time to put your legs up and rest up the day before the race. Nothing can put you in a greater mental state than knowing that you have prepared as well as possible. That feeling is a reward in itself. The race will be the icing on the cake. See you at the starting line!