It’s almost here! The OrthoCarolina 10k Classic on August 20th is quickly approaching, along with all the other fall 5Ks, 10Ks, and marathons- ’tis the season.
If you’re anything like me, you live for checklists and get deep satisfaction in crossing lines off of those lists. Need to pack for a weekend trip- checklist. Grocery shopping- isn’t a grocery list just a food checklist? Have roughly 98,347 things to do and only so many hours in the day to complete your tasks- checklist. My sticky note budget probably well exceeds that of a “normal” person, but “normal” people aren’t that interesting, so I’ll continue to fill my computer screen, refrigerator, and other unsuspecting nooks and crannies with my little love notes to myself.
OK, a checklist for what to do on a boring Saturday (run, shower, groceries, nap, dinner, Netflix, bed… this is an actual list I found in my wallet… whyyy?) might be a little unnecessary and – let’s face it- neurotic. But preparing for an upcoming race using checklists for One Week out, 3 days out, 1 day out, and Day-Of is something I’ve started doing, and it’s helped so much. Being prepared lowers race-day butterflies and helps ensure you’re at the starting line on time, laced up, and ready to crush the competition like the well-oil running machine you are. Something as small as remembering to pin your bib to your shirt the night before your race shaves precious time off of your pre-race prep and clears your schedule and your mind to focus on the task ahead.
Countdown: One Week
Drive, walk, or run the race route before the big day. This will help you to quell some of those pre-race jitters by eliminating the element of surprise. If you know where all of the hills, valleys, twists, and turns are, you’re more likely to feel equipped to manage them.
Don’t introduce new shoes, gear, etc. this close to a race. Now is not the time for experimentation- stick with what has worked for you thus far!
Graze and eat full, healthy meals, but don’t stuff yourself.
Eat light but filling meals. Carbo-loading is kind of just an excuse to eat a bunch of pasta. Nothing wrong with that. However, I opt for a light, protein-packed meal- usually grilled chicken and a low-fiber veggie. If you do carbo-load, do it in small increments rather than a Cheesecake Factory-sized serving of Alfredo. Keep sauces and toppings/add-ins light as well- my favorite it a simple olive oil and garlic combo. Many suggest a heavy-carb day 2 days before your race rather than the day before to boost your glycogen stores.
Countdown: 1 Day
Pin your bib to the shirt you plan to wear during the race. There is no greater frustration than stabbing yourself with safety pins as you fumble to put your bib on at the starting line.
Do one last “shakeout run” if you’re feeling it. Don’t push here, just get your muscles ready. However, there should be a little speed at some point during this run to prime your body for competition. Otherwise, relax and stay off of your feet when possible in your daily life- you’ve put in the training hours and now get to reap the sweet, sweet benefits of tapering!
Scope out the parking situation. Nothing worse than frantically parallel parking on a sketchy side street the morning of your race. Protect your pre-race zen with this simple way to plan ahead.
One of my personal pre-race rituals is to dedicate each mile to one person I care about. I helps me push through when a hill seems too steep, I want to walk, or I just need a little extra boost.
I can think of no better time to relax and brush up on your ScoopRuns series powered by OrthoCarolina! We have information on the race itself, where you can hit a brewery run the week after your race, how to increase your speed safely for your next race, a killer running playlist, and gear recommendations to reward yourself with after a race well run.
Go to bed early. Getting a good night’s sleep will help keep you sharp and focused on your goal.
Wake up earlier than you need to. This will help you stay calm and also allow for more time for your breakfast to digest before your start time.
For Pete’s sake eat something. I can’t tell you how important it is to have a little something with some carbs and protein for energy before your race. Avoid high fiber foods that could cause tummy trouble. It might be tempting to skip breakfast, especially if you’re waking up at the crack of dawn to make it to the starting line, but don’t. Some of my favorite race day breakfasts are an English Muffin with peanut butter and banana, oatmeal with nuts, or a smoothie with fruit and yogurt.
Hydrate strategically. While it might be tempting to down a ton of water, keep your drinks to small sips. This way you’re not stopping at every potty stop along the way. Longer races are infamous for removing all sense of shame from participants who often take “personal breaks” just off of the course. In the days leading up to the race, make sure you hydrate as well.
Arrive early. Give yourself time to check in if necessary, wake up, and get a little stretching in.
Don’t overdress. On an overcast morning, I had no need for my sunglasses but, foolishly, brought them with me anyway. The result was me tossing them to my cheering squad on the sidelines mid-race after miles of fumbling with them. Check the weather and plan accordingly with both your clothes and your gear.
Have a plan of attack for water stations. There is always a bottleneck at the beginning of the water stop, be smart and go to the end of the table. Once you have your cup, pinch it to make a spout and sip- SIP– don’t gulp.
WOOHOO! You did it! Now it’s time to refuel with a protein bar or similar snack in the 30 minutes after your race, keep moving to keep your muscles from stiffening, and pat yourself on the back. I made the mistake of a post-race nap after my first half marathon and was hobbling around Uptown that night feebly cheering on my Tar Heels for the Duke-Carolina game that year like a good, dedicated fan. Don’t be like me. It’s not a bad idea to do a short, easy workout the day after to help speed your recovery time either.
Good luck on race day everyone- you got this! Be sure to tag @ScoopCharlotte in your photos too.