5 Key Preparations A Week Before A Big Race
1. Tapering. You need to run less before a big race. It allows your muscles to repair, your glycogen supplies to normalize and gives you needed rest. I know I’ve got a few nagging injuries like pulled muscles and achilles tendonitis. A little rest certainly will help. But be careful, according to this month’s Runner’s World you can taper too much.
Since joggling the Chicago Marathon two weeks ago, I’ve tried to scale back my running volume. In those 14 days, I’ve done a total of 55+ miles for an average of just under 4 miles a day. Most of the workouts have been 5-miles, 3-miles or 2-miles. This may be a bit too much tapering but there’s not much to do about it now. My legs feel better anyway.
2. Nutrition. Don’t worry about eating anything different. The key to being prepared for a long race is to have a stomach that is behaving normally. You don’t want to start eating veggies and fruits if you hadn’t already been doing so. What you will want to do is just eat a little more than normal (perhaps 300-400 more calories). Try not to pig-out however. Adding extra weight before a race only tends to slow you down.
I probably ate too much this week. Tonight will just be a pasta dish for dinner.
3. Sleeping. Get extra sleep. Experts say that most people don’t get enough sleep anyway, so a little extra can only help you. This is especially important because the day or two before the race will be restless ones. I didn’t sleep much last night and tonight I expect much of the same. It’s important to be rested the day of the race if you want to have you fastest time.
4. Race Preparation. For a marathon you’ll want to make sure you have as much figured out as possible. Plan things like how and when you’ll arrive at the race, how you’ll get home, where you’ll put your stuff, what you’re going to wear, etc. To give you an idea of all the things I bring to a marathon check out this post – 25 things every joggler needs to run a marathon.
Since I’m trying to break a world record for the 50 miler, it is a bit more complicated. I have to arrange spotters to watch and getting 4 or 5 people organized to take shifts is challenging. But I know some great people so I’m sure it’ll be fine.
5. Mental Preparation. You’ve done all the training and now you just wait. If you’re like me, you’ll obsess about the race starting about 4 days before. You’ll find it hard to focus on work or much else in your life. You’ll start talking about running or the race all the time and probably bore most of the people around you. That’s ok. It’s a lot of work to run a marathon or ultra marathon. The hardest part will be how you handle the post-race experience. Prepare yourself to feel a sense of loss. Your goal will be complete (whether you accomplish it or not) and you’ll have nothing left to focus so much energy on. Your best bet is to figure out the next race to run. Give yourself some time off but not too much. Post-race depression sucks.