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The Week Before a Big Race

You’ve been running for years.

Races ranging from 3.1 miles to 26.2 miles have been completed.

A plan was followed that fit your schedule and abilities, and you’re faster than ever.

Now, it’s the week of the race, here’s how you don’t mess this up.

You’ve been running for years.

Races ranging from 3.1 miles to 26.2 miles have been completed.

A plan was followed that fit your schedule and abilities, and you’re faster than ever.

Now, it’s the week of the race, here’s how you don’t mess this up.

Let’s cover the mental side of this first.

It does not matter how many races you’ve ran, if you have goals to reach it’s likely there will always be a hint of nervousness. There are a number of ways to calm yourself, to make sure the race goes off as hoped.

Race Often
A benefit of doing shorter and less important events leading up to the A race is that you simply get used to racing. You have a chance to practice your pre-race routine for the big event with smaller and less important runs. Use these races as well as key workouts to practice your race day nutrition and schedule.

Pretend to be Confident
Wearing lab coats helps students test better than while wearing regular clothing, studies have suggested. Look the part of a confident runner, and it can help your confidence! Stand tall, hold your head up high. Fake it until you make it, and maybe your brain will catch on to what your body is saying!

Self Talk
Having a mantra to help calm the nerves can certainly be a great tool. Simply repeating “I can do this” or “you’ve got this” and breathing deeply will instantly make you feel better.

Next, nutrition.

Carb loading may have been the first thing to come to mind?

This is the practice of super saturating your muscles with stored carbohydrate, so you have more fuel within your body for the run. If your event is longer than, maybe two hours, some sort of carbohydrate loading may be beneficial.

Ask ten runners and you may receive ten different ways they have carb loaded. It used to be that athletes actually stopped eating carbohydrate for a period of time at the beginning of race week. This caused the muscles to “soak up” carbs taken in later in the week, past their usual levels of storage. Fortunately, scientists of have since shown that the depletion is not necessary, but simply going from a ~50% carbohydrate diet to a ~75% carbohydrate diet during race week can do the trick.

Perhaps the easiest is the Western Australian method. Scientists at the University of Western Australia found that performing 2.5 minutes at roughly mile race pace followed by a :30 sprint was enough to kickstart carbohydrate loading of the muscles. For the remainder of the day, the athletes consumed 12g of carbohydrate for each kg of lean body mass, and the result was a 90% increase in storage! No half week long dietary modification needed.

Finally, the workouts

First off, the most important thing is to find the type of taper that works best for you. This will depend on so many things, for some races you may need a three week taper for others a few days will work, it depends on what you’ve done over the previous few months.

When talking about finding what works best for you, I’ve noticed repeatedly that I have some of my best hard workouts the day after another hard workout. This is something I’ve noticed over and over again. So, I often incorporate a hard but short workout into my taper the day before a race.

Instead of using the taper as an excuse to slack off and run very little, I perform a couple hard workouts during the week. If you have been doing a once or twice weekly key workout, there should be no threat of these leaving you fatigued. On the contrary, they should leave you feeling sharp and fresh.

One theory is the hard workouts tell your body that it’s ok to run very very hard, letting the brain know that it’s normal. Another is that these are good neuromuscular workouts that keep the snap in your legs, prior to a race.

You’re getting your legs and brain ready to run fast!

The Pre-Race Questionnaire

Below is a form, which you’re free to fill out here or save for later, that will help fill in any gaps in the schedule or it may be a simple relief process to lay out the entire race day on paper, sort of like laying out your gear does (you should do this, too!).

Feel free to save the form for later or fill it out here. If you submit it, I’d be happy to reply back with any thoughts or questions I may have for you.

-Kyle @ SKORA

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One of the most common questions you see on online running groups is along the lines of “I have a race next weekend, any…

Posted by Skora Running on Thursday, July 2, 2015

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