For many runners, fall is an exciting time of year.
Not only do we finally get a break from the summer heat, but many of us have races on our fall calendars as well.
Obviously, a big part of preparing for a race is logging your miles in the months leading up to it. But there’s more to being race-ready than simply making sure you’ve been running enough.
Final Physical Preparation
In the last week or two leading up to your race, there isn’t much you can do to further improve your physical fitness. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still things you can do to be better prepared come race day.
Respect the Taper
While most runners don’t enjoy the taper period, tapering is a vital component of being physically ready to run a strong race.
The taper period gives your body a chance to be well-rested and refreshed after a long training cycle.
If you keep pushing yourself right up to the start of the race, odds are you won’t start the race with as much gas in your tank as you would if you back off and respect the taper.
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our running success, as well as for our overall health.
Yet many of us struggle to get as much sleep as we need.
As the race approaches, making an effort to improve both the quantity and the quality of your sleep will definitely help you be your best on race day. And since you’re in the taper at this point and not running quite as much because of it, sleeping in might be easier the week before your race.
Start Hydrating Early
Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure you’re well-hydrated for your race.
For the record, not worrying about hydrating until the night before your race would definitely be considered last minute.
Drinking lots of water the night before your race is only going to result in multiple porta-potty stops during the race-NOT what you want.
In order for your body to absorb the water into your tissues and not simply flush your kidneys, you need to be drinking plenty of water on a regular basis.
Ideally, you’d be well-hydrated year round. But if you know that you don’t typically drink as much water as you should, start upping your quantity of water at least a week before the race.
Putting a Plan in Place
Successfully reaching your race day goals requires more than just being physically prepared.
Whatever your race day goal is, you’re more likely to reach it if you have a plan to follow on race day.
Here are some tips for creating a solid plan that will help you reach your goal for the race.
(Honestly) Review Your Training
How did the training cycle really go?
Were you consistent with your training? A little hit and miss? Did life get the better of you and force you to miss more than a few workouts?
Before you lock in your plan for race day, it’s a good idea to make sure the goal you set before you started training is still the right goal for you on race day.
- If training went spectacularly, you can set your sights higher than you did before you started training.
- If training didn’t go so well, maybe you need to adjust your goal the other way.
- If things went mostly as planned during your training, sticking with the original goal is the right call.
Once you take an honest look at how your training has gone over the past few months, you can adjust your goal if necessary and then start putting your plan together.
Putting a Plan Together
Going into a race without a plan makes hitting your goal a bit more difficult. The other end of the spectrum, having an overly complex plan, isn’t a whole lot better.
So what, then, is the ideal level of detail for your race plan?
I like having a plan for the beginning, middle, and end of the race.
Having a plan for the beginning helps you settle into the race and hopefully prevents you from going out too fast in the first few miles.
Once you get past the initial excitement of the race and get a few miles under your belt, then you can settle into goal pace and just let the miles click by.
Toward the end of the race, it’s good to have an idea of when to start your final push to the finish line.
Your plan can have a little more detail or a little less, but make sure you have a plan before you toe the starting line.
Fail to Prepare at Your Own Risk
You’ve probably heard the saying that if you fail to prepare, you should be prepared to fail.
I’m not saying that failing to do your pre-race preparations guarantees you won’t reach your goal, but I will say that not preparing makes things more difficult.
You’re certainly not doing yourself any favors by being unprepared on any front.
If you’re serious about hitting your goals, take the time to make sure you’re as prepared as possible.
Then on race day, go out there and crush it!