‘Twas the week before race day

1 May

So in less than 5 days’ time, I will be at the starting line ready to kick off my season with the Toronto Goodlife half marathon!

I’m feeling strong and ready and hoping that come race day, I’ll still be 100%.  While it’s true that anything can happen on race day, there are some things you can do to ensure your race goes as smoothly as possible.  Here are some tips I like to do in the week leading up to the big day:

1)      Hydration- as Tess will tell you, proper hydration is the key to any good exercise session; you will not be at your peak performance if you’re dehydrated.  This is especially true when it comes to long distance running where you risk muscle cramping, nausea, headaches, even death (in extreme cases) so make sure you’re getting at least 1.5-2L per day in the last few days before race day.

2)      Tapering- it is not the best idea to go for a long run the final week before your race.  You will not be doing your body any favors and have tired/sore legs come race day. Simply put: you will not be at your best.  That being said, I would recommend going for 2-3 short runs in the final week.  This will help maintain your cardio level without tiring out your legs.

3)      Carbo-loading- it’s a popular idea to indulge in yummy pasta the night before race day.  While I totally agree that consuming carbs are an excellent pre-race fuel, I actually start “carbo-loading” a few days before.  Starting Wednesday, I’ll be sure to include a complex carbohydrate in at least two of my meals per day.  E.g. whole grain toast for breakfast, brown rice at dinner time.  Be sure to balance these out with complete proteins, fruits and veggies and lots of water.

4)      Avoiding dairy- this is purely a personal choice on my part.  Typically, the week before a race, I eliminate all traces of dairy and animal products from my diet as it’s been known to cause stomach issues with me.  However, if your diet typically includes foods like eggs and yogurt- by all means continue to eat them.  When it comes to diet before a race, I do NOT recommend any “big changes” in the week before your race.  It will shock your system and can affect your performance.  Keep your diet as clean as possible of course but I don’t recommend any drastic changes such as transitioning from an omnivorous diet to a raw-vegan diet.

5)      Stretching-keeping your muscles loose and limber is very important, I can’t stress this enough.  You should be stretching after every single run to help your muscles cool down and relax after they’ve been fired up from a run.  You can risk serious injury if you don’t practice proper stretching after a workout.  On that note- please, please, PLEASE, do not stretch with cold muscles- you’ll do more harm than good.  If  you want to stretch out a bit the morning before your race, go for a brisk 5 minute walk or jog to warm up your muscles before you stretch them out.  The last thing you need is a pulled hamstring as the gun goes off.

6)      Sleep- you can be well fed, well trained, and well stretched, but if you’re tired, race day is not going to be your best day.  Marathons and half-marathons start early in the morning, so if you want to eat a proper breakfast, digest and get to the starting line on time, you need to get up early.  Go to bed early and get up early the week before race day so your body is primed and your internal clock is adjusted.

And now I’m off to fulfill #6.  Goodnight!



2 Responses to “‘Twas the week before race day”

  1. Tess and Jess May 1, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    (Tess) Sounds like you have a good system in place. Good luck Jess!

    • Tess and Jess May 2, 2012 at 9:03 am #

      (Jess)- Thanks Tess! Trying to avoid last year’s er mishap at brunch. 😉

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