The Night Before
· Pack your bag
· Eat a very light meal or nothing. (I don’t believe
in carbo-loading the night before races, even marathons.)
· Drink 4-6 ounces of water every waking hour (unless you
hear a sloshing sound in your stomach).
· Try to relax so you can sleep. But if you can’t sleep,
the race isn’t lost. (I’ve run some of my best races
after sleepless nights.)
· Shoes, socks, shirt, shorts, sweats or running suit
· Gloves, hat, turtleneck, etc., if cold
· Water (about a quart)
· Bandages and Vaseline
· $25-50 for registration, gas, food afterward, etc.
· race number if sent to you in mail, 4 small safety pins
· copy of “Race Morning” instructions (see below)
It’s hard to remember all these things at the last minute.
Photocopy these pages and put them in your bag the night before.
· After you wake, drink 4-6 ounces of water every half hour.
· Drink your last water a half-hour before the race.
· Don’t eat, it won’t get processed in time to
do you any good. (Those who need to boost their blood sugar level
should eat the same food, in the same quantity that they have found
works for them in other races or hard workouts.)
· 30-40 minutes before the race, start your warm-up.
Before You “Toe the Line”
· Walk 5 minutes to activate the running muscles gently and
prepare the body for exertion, then jog for 1-2 minutes and walk
for 1-2 minutes.
· Jog slowly 10-20 minutes. Start very slowly, then speed
up gradually to a relaxed warm-up pace.
· Stretch gently if you need to stretch (iliotibial band
injury, etc.). I’ve seen more problems when runners stretch
before fast runs, than among those who don’t stretch at all.
If you have found stretching to be beneficial for you, then go ahead,
but be very careful.
· Walk another 3-5 minutes to relax.
· About 10-15 minutes before the start, do some accelerations
to get your body ready for race conditions. Do 5-10 x 50-100 yards.
Start slowly, accelerate gradually to race pace, then ease back
to a slow jog.
· Walk again, 3-5 minutes.
· About 5-10 minutes before the start, relax, sit down, walk
around – whatever takes the edge off. Some runners put their
legs above their heads, others meditate for 5 minutes.
· Shift gears as you line up. Tense muscles don’t work
smoothly. Joke, and enjoy the festive air, energy and enthusiasm.
This relaxes muscles through the body and gets them ready.
Race Nutrition Countdown.
I begin my eating countdown the day before by eating small meals
every 2-3 hours. On each, it’s okay to eat a little protein
with carbohydrates that you know will be digested easily. Your goal
is to eat just enough to leave you satisfied, but not full, for
2 hours or so. Be sure to drink water or an electrolyte beverage
with your snacks. That afternoon and evening I’ll take water
and juices regularly. If I’m hungry I’ll eat only easily
digestible food, such as bread or energy bars. I’ll obviously
avoid fried or greasy food or other foods that are hard to digest,
like peanut butter or dairy products. I’ll also stay away
from high roughage items like salad, bran, etc.
The carbo-loading dinner before a race is great social fun. It’s
okay to eat a little, but don’t overeat and avoid salty food,
particularly if the weather is predicted to be warm. Loading up
too much the night before can lead to unloading during the race.
I like to wake up 3-4 hours before the race. During the first 2-3
hours, I’ll take 6 ounces of water or Accelerade very hour.
About 60-90 minutes before the start, I usually eat an energy bar
and have a cup of coffee as logistics permit. Hopefully, I’ll
have some water with me at the start to sip, but primarily to dump
on my head if the day is warm. It may look strange, but it works!
(If you want to try this routine, test it out on your long runs
There is now strong evidence that a cup of coffee an hour before
a race will improve performance. This drug helps mobilize free fatty
acids and triglycerides, making them available for energy utilization
in the blood stream. It also helps you to wake up and get your sewage
system cleaned out, avoiding the last minute lines at the “porto-johns.”
Too much caffeine, however, can cause dehydration and may negatively
influence your heart rhythm. Be careful and try it out on several
trial runs before using it in races.
Printed by permission from Galloway’s
Book on Running (Shelter Publications, 2002), pp. 94-95, 229-230
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