Race Day Preparation

race Day

When you have been waiting and training for many months for a big event, it is normal to feel all sorts of emotions during last days leading up to the event. Everyone feels a big race differently and the preparation for it brings all sorts of very personal emotions. The week leading up to the big event, it is important to prepare your mind and body so that you can give it your best effort on race day.

First of all, for every one of us, a big race means something different. Some might consider a 5km run a big event. Some others might feel that only an Ultra-Marathon can be seen as a big event. Both would be right. Regardless of which discipline or event you consider to be the big race for you, the important part is that it represents a big moment in your life. It is the climax and the closure of weeks, months or even years of training and sacrifice. All those late nights and early mornings make sense once you get to the big day.

The questions that plays on the athlete’s mind are generally around how do they mentally prepare for the big day? What do you do with the nerves and the anxiety that come with the expectations you put into the event? How do you make sure that you will have a great day out? How do you aim for a personal best time? Or how do you simply avoid a DNF and not end up suffering and struggling? These questions are all a natural part of the final physical and mental preparation for race day.

The first aspect is the Physical preparation. Making sure that your body has everything it needs. On the days prior to the event:

  • Try to sleep as much as possible. Most likely you won’t sleep the required number of hours the day before race day, so focus on resting as much as possible in the days leading up  to race day.
  • Depending on the distance it is better to eat some extra carbs (carb loading), usually 2 days before the big day.
  • Stay hydrated. Water, on its own, won’t provide enough for your body. Focus on giving your body hydration with added electrolytes to ensure that your body keeps the liquid in it.
  • Avoid any type of food that you are not used to eating. Avoid spicy or heavy foods that might slow your digestion or upset your stomach.
  • Focus the last week on just staying mobile with reduced intensity and duration of training. Follow your triathlon coach Melbourne program for taper and stretching and get your muscles ready for the big day. The focus is on keeping your body active while giving it the recovery and freshening up that it needs.

In terms of the mental preparation, the checklist might look slightly different.

  • Learn the race course in advance. Know where the turns are, what the weather is typically like, where the climbs are and where the hydration stations are set up. Having a plan in advance will keep you ready for any unforeseen circumstances that might occur.
  • Elements like weather or wind can negatively affect your race experience. Plan for your race, starting from the clothing you will be wearing to the expected hydration before and during the race.
  • Learn and visualise the course. Walk the course, see yourself crossing the finish line, imagine the moment of glory and remind yourself of your training and sacrifice and how much you deserve this moment.
  • Trust your training and your program. Trust the process that has brought you to the start line, even if you had a few bad days, the big picture is the one that counts and the one that will take you to the finish line stronger than ever.
  • Calm your thoughts in the days prior to the race. It is normal if you feel like freaking out over small things. Remember to relax and take a break every now and then to gather your thoughts and get back into ‘the now’.
  • Talk about your race to someone you trust. Message your coach about the course, the overall race tactics or that athlete that you need to beat this time. It is better to let those emotions vent instead of letting them all create an internal chaos.

Finally, remember this is your race. You paid for it. You own it. Some people might say that this is not a big deal, but they don’t know the sacrifice you have put into the training, the program and your goals. They don’t know the days you decided to stay at home and the nights you didn’t go out with your friends, or the stress of balancing work, family, and training. A race can be the representation of your potential, feel free to treat it as such.

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