The day before your race is more crucial than many think. What you do 24 hours before your race will make or break it. You need to be both mentally and physically prepared, this way nothing will get in your way come race time. This includes proper training, diet, and meditation. Lets take a look at what I do on pre-race day.
Staying Loose: I know many people who believe that it is best to take a complete rest day before their race. This is entirely wrong however. A day without running of any form will just ensure that your muscles will tighten up. My pre-race running is super simple, yet still prepares me for the next day. I like to do some dynamic stretching, such as leg swings, luges, and hip circles to warm up a little. Then, I will jog a mile at about 60% effort. Nothing too crazy, just a little something to loosen up your body. Next, I like to do some grass strides to open up my hips. This takes care of the running part.
Getting Loose: Now lets move into stretching. You should only do static stretching AFTER your workout. This is because static stretching doesn’t increase your core temperature. This means that you should use dynamic stretching for warm ups. After my mile and grass strides, I head to my schools athletic trainer. From there, I get deep, long stretches. It is super important to have these deep stretches before your race. It makes your muscles relax and takes away any tightness you had.
Getting Cold: Ice baths are extremely beneficial to pretty much any athlete. These 50 degree baths are both miserable and relieving. I take an ice bath for 20 minutes the day before every race.
Cold therapy constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a faster return of blood flow, which helps move the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. “Ice baths don’t only suppress inflammation, but they also help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles,” says David Terry, M.D., an ultrarunner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times.Andrew Dawson and Nick Kimball
Don’t Experiment: I used to make this mistake all the time. I used to look up different recipes to use for the day before a race. This can be bad in so many ways. The main negative is that you don’t know how your body will react. Sure, the new meal could make you feel great and energized for the next day. However, it could make you feel sluggish and heavy. The time to experiment is in training, not pre-race day. Use what worked the best for you in your training. My go to for pre-race is smoothies. Check out my Smoothies For Runners blog.
Eat Food High In Everything: When many athletes think about their pre-race meal, they think carb overload. Yes, good carbs are great for providing energy, but your body needs so much more. You need fats, protein, and sugar as well. The key here is finding the healthy version of all these. Check out my What Should Runners Eat post to get more information.
Hydrate: Hydration is equally important, if not more, to what you eat. You need more than just water though. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes. Water is great for replacing the lost water, but you still need to replace electrolytes. Pickles are surprisingly great for this task. The idea to hydrating before a race is to pretty much load up your body with electrolytes. This way, when you loose some, you still have plenty more in the tank to keep pushing .
Being mentally prepared for a race can sometimes be difficult. I know I used to struggle and get really nervous. Often I would even convince myself that I wasn’t prepared. What I like to do now is think about my training that I did that week. Then, think about the course and the competition. Visualize yourself in the race. Think about the strategy you used in your training. Now comes the hard part. When you are on the start line, all the things that you thought about the night before, don’t think, DO. The only thing your allowed to think about when you run is your form. This is to take your mind off the pain.
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