How I Prepare

We’re in the final stretch leading up to the North Face Whistler Half Marathon, and I know tops on everyone’s race day discussions is “what to do BEFORE the race?”. It seems every run clinic session we have lately someone has asked, in a round about way, about night before/week before/morning of rituals.

I’m going to come right out and say that for me, it’s not so much what I do the night before the race that helps me so much as it is the things I do in the days leading up to. So here are the things that I will be trying to do/avoid from here until after the race.

1. No dairy. I don’t eat dairy (much) as it is, but I really try to keep it out of my system in the days leading up (this means extra label reading and even more “cooking from scratch” than normal).

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We all should be drinking half of our body weight in ounces worth of water every day just as a base, people who exercise should add more because sweat depletes us of our water and people who drink caffeinated beverages should as well (caffeine is a diuretic and therefore causes us to pee more frequently = water loss). Confused what your intake should be? Say you weigh 150 lbs that means you should be drinking about 75 ounces of water, minimum, every day.

3. No alcohol. I always joke that one of the reasons I run longer distance races is so that I can reward myself with champagne afterward. That means I have a nice little “prize” waiting for race day and that makes turning down the glass of wine tonight a bit easier.

4. Rest. Whether that be more sleep, less cardio, and more time with my feet up, I’m doing it all. Trying to go to bed earlier, listening to myself and knowing when a run is just going to be “junk miles” at this point, and being okay with some of the household chores not getting done. There’s a reason us runners have dirty homes….

5. Eat well. I don’t mean just carbo-loading the night before; balanced meals in the days leading up to race day are so essential in ensuring that we have good energy and are light on our feet. I’ve upped my vitamin C, I’m focusing on including higher quality protein with every meal (tempeh, salmon, eggs, beans and legumes), and watching that nasty sugar habit.

6. Nothing new. Honestly, this isn’t the week to try that juice cleanse or start adding more fibre to your diet. Normally I would say no time like the present to get oneself on the road toward optimal health, and believe me I am so looking forward to making a few of my own health changes, but they’re all going to happen after this Saturday. No new teas, no new restaurants (unless you’re from out of town; by all means, enjoy Whistler’s culinary talents), no new supplements, etc.

7. Get my playlist ready. I don’t normally run with music, but I discovered a few years ago during a race that for those last few miles sometimes it helps me to be able to disappear into someone else’s words, or a funky beat, and just run. Check out the Official 2013 Soundtrack  that our friends at Mountain FM helped compile for this year’s race to get yourself started.

8. Do something for me. Tonight I am going to a hot yoga class at YYoga NeoWhistler , coming home for dinner and getting my girls down for bed, and then I am heading to a special event at our local lululemon store. Nothing to do with running, but so totally something that I know is going to give ME that personal boost of love and support – from myself.

9. Get pumped up about running. I love nothing more than a good running story. A few of my favourites come from Dean Karnazes and Scott Jurek . This week I started reading Rich Roll’s book Finding Ultra and it is just what I needed to get me amped up for race day. I also recommend watching some running movies Running the Sahara , Unbreakable: The Western States 100 and Spirit of the Marathon were all really good.

10. Set goals. Hopefully you’ve already set yourself at least one goal for race day, even if it’s just “get to the Start line healthy”. I always try to set three goals for the day, and they’re usually based on finish times:

  • the first is my absolute, biggest and brightest goal (I want to finish faster than last year, 1:50-and change)
  • something I’ll be really happy with achieving  (this year’s goal is to match the time I finished with in 2012, but in 2012 the course measured short so I’m trying to match that time for the actual full distance this year)
  • a goal that I will be okay with achieving and not be disappointed with (as always, I’ll be happy to run the half in under 2 hours)

Other goals I set for myself include just having fun, remembering to say thank you to the volunteers out there and cheering for the other runners.

What are you doing to prepare for race day?

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