What you do before the race has an impact on your subsequent performance. It is important that you arrive at the race with a sound mind and body to ensure you will avoid unnecessary mishaps and reach the finish line strong. Here are eight simple, personal tips that can help you prepare for your next race.
1. Consume a light, pre-race meal.
Running a long distance will let you expend tremendous physical energy. But this does not mean you need to load your stomach with so much food. A light but nutrient-filled meal before the race will help you re-charge for the event. Take foods that are rich sources of carbohydrates, sugar, sodium, and potassium like wheat bread, peanut butter, bananas, and fruit juice. Eat your meal more than four hours before the actual race starts, so you will not feel “heavy” while running. Also, avoid eating foods that are new to your diet because it might disrupt your regular digestive activity.
2. Drink plenty of water during the race, not before the race.
When I was just starting out in running, my practice was that I drink plenty of water or other energy liquids before the race thinking that they will keep me hydrated throughout the race. Then, I ended up running with a full bladder that is wanting to explode! This is very uncomfortable and distracting, especially when you need to contain it and wait to reach the next kilometers where the portalets are located. Thereafter, I reduce my liquid intake or refrain from drinking at least three hours before the race. Hydration stations are located along the race route so there is no need to worry about getting dehydrated.
3. Avoid alcoholic beverages.
Keep the caps tight on those bottles of beers and reserve them to a later date. Drinking alcoholic beverage before the race can affect a good sleeping pattern. A cup of coffee and other caffeinated drinks have similar effect so better keep them away in the interim.
4. Get enough rest and sleep.
Avoid engaging in strenuous physical activities and save your energy for the race. Sleep for six to eight hours; if you cannot do so, do not worry! Just lie on your bed and relax your mind and body. Breathing exercise and visual imagery are great ways to relax. If you cannot help the feeling of restlessness, try to distract yourself by doing light activities such as reading a good book, watching humorous videos, and organizing your things.
5. Avoid the hassle, get your race things ready.
Prepare your running-must-haves beforehand. Run through your checklist to make sure you have not missed anything. Put the stuff that you are not yet wearing on your way to the venue in one place – race bib, timing chip, baggage tags, hydration belts, music player, and the like. Familiarize yourself with the race map and try to identify which points might be challenging in terms of road elevation, texture, and crowding.
6. Don’t be late.
Arrive at the race venue at least 45 minutes before the gun start, so you will have adequate time to check in and do your last minute rituals. Research the fastest and most convenient way of traveling to the venue to avoid delays caused by traffic re-routing schemes. Roads surrounding the race course are usually closed to public and/or private transportation.
7. Sex before run – please do not disturb.
Engage in your bedroom sex marathon with your faithful partner if you must, but make sure you will get a full night’s sleep before heading to the race. I recommend doing it in the afternoon, so you will have a great night to devote to sleep. Harness the power of your self-control. Authorities and research findings in the field of sports medicine refute the idea that having sex before an athletic event reduces one’s performance. In fact, it is the lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, and smoking that are usually paired with sexual activity that is causing a decline in the performance. Sex activates the masculine hormone testosterone that gives a feeling of relaxation and drives away anxiety; hence, it can actually help boost performance.
According to BBC’s Magazine Monitor, the age-old argument linking sexual activity to athletic performance goes back to the ancient Greeks, who believed safeguarding a man’s sperm was vital for spurring aggression needed to perform in the arena.
8. Listen to your body.
Pay attention to your feeling before the race. Do not ignore somatic pains that might be precursors to a more serious injury if you push yourself in the run. Seek the advice of a physician and take proper medication immediately.