People who race in half marathons, marathons or bigger events like triathlons do them for all kinds of reasons. Whether your aim is simply for sense of self or you have loftier goals in your racing ambitions you have got to have a good training regimen. Especially if you’re new to the field, you’ve got to have a plan. This regimen has got to include the direct lead up to and cool down from your race. It took a training system to get you into racing these huge events; you have to have a system for the time surrounding your event. This is especially true when you are traveling to a race and you are perhaps staying in a foreign bed like a hotel or motel. Here are some tips for keeping your body and mind relaxed, primed and focused in the time surrounding race day.
Day Before: If you have to travel to get to this race it’s a good idea to get there a full day early. Even though staying in someone else’s bed is not what most people enjoy, being able to acclimate to your location fully takes time. If you’re coming up from San Diego and sea level to Colorado for a race the air is going to be thinner and the temperatures are going to be much cooler. It’s a good idea to get out and do some jogging in your race location, make sure to drink plenty of water, stretch, and try to eat as well as you can. Don’t opt in for fast food if you usually eat fresh food. You wouldn’t want to eat any foods which could mess with your digestion just ahead of the race. It also helps to be there a day early so you can get a lay of the land and maybe run the race course or portions that you know of it.
Night Before: Make sure to get plenty of rest the night before a race. Of course if you’re staying in a hotel or someone else’s house you could be at the mercy of elements beyond your control. Still, try as well as you can to get a full night’s sleep ahead of your race. If possible see about getting a massage from a masseuse if that’s something that’s available.
Morning Of: You want to get to the race location as early as possible. Stretch and of course make sure to empty your bladder before you have to take to the starting line. It helps to drink plenty of water in the earlier morning but you should stay hydrated throughout.
Just After: Just after the race you are going to want to have some water probably. Do your regular cool down and stretch as you ordinarily would. Make sure to try and keep your experience as “normal” as possible, even though coming to the end of a 26 mile run by yourself and at a marathon are two totally different experiences.
Day After: Get back to the space you call home as soon as possible. Especially when you have another race to prepare for. But getting back into your ordinary training routine is the best thing for most athletes. See your local masseuse and behave as you would if you had just run a practice marathon on your own. You would probably take it easy the following day while not remaining totally dormant. Maybe lift some weights; maybe run a shorter distance like a 5K at a slower pace.
You have to be your own enforcer and do only as much as you know yourself able to do. If you’re serious about running; it’s time to get serious!