3 Tips for being Race Day Ready
When we pin on the bib and lace our racing shoes, there is a lot more to being ready to conquer the day than just our training leading up to the line. Physical fitness is only part of the battle. You like to train? That’s nice. Chances are a dozen of the runners next to you do too. What separates your preparation from the rest? Here are a few things to think about going into your next race.
1. Know your course
Whether you are running a 5k on the roads or a 50 mile race on the trails, you must know your race course. This allows you to mentally prepare for terrain, turns, hills and more. Now we don’t always have the ability to run on a course before we race it, but it is good to get a general idea of what is ahead. When you know what you are racing on, it may impact how you train. You can bring elements of your race course into your weekly workout routine. For instance, if you know your race has a lot of sharp turns, maybe you should consider incorporating a similar feel in a workout. Finally, knowing your race course aids in making a plan for race day.
2. Have a plan
Much like writing down a scheduled meeting or an appointment, making a race day plan should make us committed to something. Chances are, when we have an idea that we have imagined in our head dozens of times, we believe we can carry it out. For instance, if we have thought about having a bad race for the last week of training, chances are we have already scheduled that poor performance in our head. We should never be surprised when our attitude impacts our actions.
Now let’s talk about the positive side of having a plan. Let’s say you have a 5k and you have been itching for that break through race. You know you get a little sloppy on the second mile so you have a plan to keep yourself engaged. You plan to go out with your training partner for the first mile, see how you are feeling and make a conscious effort to put in a slight surge on the second mile so that you stay mentally in the game. You know that if you get through the second mile, your strength is in your finishing speed. You know you can work a cut down from half a mile out to finish strong. Now this is just an example of a race plan, but your plan should include accountability points for you. Try to avoid making your plan around specific times, splits and racing particular people. All of those can be variable depending on conditions. This leads us to the next point of adaptability.
3. Be flexible
In our blog, The Fear in Flexibility, we talk about controlling the controllable. The weather, the people we race and schedule of the day is not up to us. This is why we must make plans according to what we can control (both physically and mentally). There may be a time when we have a point to point 10k with a 15-20 mph head wind, a race that’s start is delayed by 30 min or even a rival that falls off pace early in the race. We cannot mold our race plans around perfect weather, ideal organization or even other people. The only thing that should not be flexible on race day is your attitude and approach to the day. Be willing to go with the flow and let the best version of yourself come forward on any given day. If you do that, you cannot ask for anything more.