Recently, I've been getting a lot of questions about the best way to prepare for a race (today we're talking 1/2 marathon). Race preparation is something that takes practice and is different for everybody, but I'll share what works for me. Preparation should really start the moment we sign up for a race but today we're just talking the last couple of days leading up to the race. Without further-ado....
Your weekly mileage should be tapering as you approach your race date and the intensity of your weight lifting sessions or anything that would normally require max effort should be tailored to a moderate intensity. We want fresh legs when the gun goes off so limiting leg work in the last 3-4 days leading up to your race is recommended.
Thursday- 3 mile run (1 easy, 1 hard, 1 easy), Low volume body weight strength movements (push up, pull up, squat etc)
Friday- 30 min cycle (moderate intensity), 45 mins Yoga and or dynamic stretching
Saturday- OFF (but if you MUST RUN 4x100m, w/a warm up and cool down) just enough to keep your legs fresh.
I don't change my diet dramatically for two reasons, you don't want to introduce anything new to your body right before a race and if you've been training and/or working out consistently leading up to the race your body is already acclimated to burning fuel (your food) and shouldn't need anything out of the ordinary to do the same during you race. If you eat more "low-carbish" adding a little fruit may help, beyond that your body shouldn't need anything extra. Following the race you will need to make sure you get a good snack right away (my favorite is carrots and almond or sunflower butter) and a good recovery meal later (grilled chicken breast with steamed broccoli smothered in homemade marinara and topped with nutritional yeast for me please!) On the other hand, hydration will be key in race preparation, I shoot for at least a gallon a day, especially when we've been sweating a lot! I don't like to drink during a 1/2 half marathon unless it's extraordinarily hot, but our bodies need water about 90mins into exercise so if you plan on walking and or jogging hydrating along the way is recommended.
Pre-Race Checklist Suggestions:
Day before (Saturday in this case):
Packet pick-up (if you didn't already)
Look at the course map and decide if you're going to use the hydration stations
Eat clean, not too much of anything in excess or different from your regular diet
Try not to sit too much (can cause unwanted tightness in your hips)
Plan and prep all pre-race and post race food
Ladies out there, if you have long hair shower because you don't want wet hair for your race...brrr! In early morning races :)
Drink 8oz warm water with 1 full lemon squeezed in to it after dinner to cleanse your tummy.
Shoot for 8 hrs of sleep
Lay out your clothes for the race and include a change of clothes for after (trust me)
Try to RELAX...pre-race jitters may try to keep us up, but preparing as much as you can the night before should take some stress off.
Arrive at least 45 mins before race start
Bring a large water bottle and leave it in your car for after the race
Pick a meeting place with your buddies in case you get separated (speaking from experience on this one :)
Pace yourself and save some gas to finish strong,! Run smarter not harder...don't let other runners determine you pace especially in your first couple of races, just run YOUR RACE as you imagined it and have fun. If you have energy to push harder in the last couple of miles then go for it!
Good luck to all my runner's in the Shamrock on Sunday! Chantell, Andrea, Colleen, Stacey, Madhavi, Richelle, and all others, have fun and know that I'm cheering you on in spirit! Happy Running!