Sunday, October 13, 2013

7 Steps to Get Through Race Week

Well, it's finally here...the final countdown to #STWM 2013 a.k.a #sub130orbust is on.  That also means its taper week for me.  So, I'm going to do my best to heed my own advice this week and not lose my mind.   Everyone deals with race week a little differently.  Since I am the Queen of list making it would only make sense that I've come up with a little to do list for this week.  These are things that I try to do in the days leading up to the race. 

Get the Knots Out

I did my last long run yesterday and promptly went and suffered through treated myself to a 90 minute massage.   I always find it important to get a massage before and after my big races.  When going for a massage before your race, figure out if you want it to be a deep tissue massage (i.e get the knots out) or something a little lighter just to flush your legs out.  Given the beat down I've put on my legs over the last 4 weeks, I opted for the get the knots out version.  The deeper the massage, the longer the recovery time.  At least that's what I've learned over the years.  If you're going to go deep, give yourself a week to recover before race day.   If not, you could probably get away with doing it 3-4 days pre-race.   It all depends on how well you recover.  This is what has worked for me in the past so this is what I've stuck with.

Race Strategy & Visualization

Visualization is something I like to work on pretty much every day leading up to the race.  I picture myself in my race day outfit, getting into my corral at the start line.  I let the butterflies come and I breathe through them.  I practice calming myself down.  If it's a race I've done before, I visualize myself running along the course.  Remembering the landmarks.  Luckily I ran the re-vamped Scotia course last year so I know what to expect come race day.  For my goal races, I usually have some kind of game plan going in.  Sometimes I stick to it and sometimes I don't.  Given my goal this time around, I am definitely going to be sticking with my race plan.  I'm going to start with the 1:30 pace bunny and see how that feels.   If I feel good at the 13km mark, I will start to pick it up and try to hold 4:10's until the 18km mark.  If I'm still feeling alright at this point, I'm going to drop the hammer and go all out for the last 3km.  Obviously if I'm not feeling great, I'll stick with the 1:30 pace bunny and hold on for dear life.

Keep it Clean

I generally eat fairly clean about 80% of the time but during race week I make a concerted effort to stay away from the junk.  Especially any sort of refined foods and sweets.  I look at it this way:  Would you fill a Formula One car with low grade fuel and expect it to perform its best?  Of course not.  It takes premium quality fuel for it to perform its best.  Your body is like a race car.  Why on earth would you fill it with anything less than premium fuel?  Not only will your body perform better, you'll feel better and recover better as well.  It may also help boost your immune system, which is a huge bonus leading up to a race.  The last thing you want is to get sick just days out from your goal race.  After all that training, how much would that suck? 

Plan your race day outfit

I am the worst for this.  I will weather watch for days leading up to the race and hem an haw about what I'm going to wear and change my mind a million times (totally a woman's prerogative!).  Fall races in Ontario generally mean cooler temps and sometimes rain.   Last year, it was muggy and rainy.  I wore a t-shirt with my Running Free singlet over it, plus arm warmers and I was totally overdressed.  Of course I've checked the forecast already and right now the forecast is a high of 11, low of 5 with showers.  Awesome.  I think that this year I'm going to forgo the t-shirt and just wear my singlet and arm warmers.  I am hoping to be working hard enough that I won't be cold for too long. 

Make Your Race Day Playlist

Given the choice, I always chose to race with music.  I don't find it takes away from my racing experience or my concentration.  It's a soundtrack to my race experience.  Background noise that somehow manages to enhance my race experience.  I always enjoy making playlists, although I think this time around it's going to be tough.  I currently have about 3.5 hours of music on my shuffle that I'm going to have to whittle down to 1.5 hours.  Guess I have my work cut out for me.  Stay tuned this week to see what I've decided on.

Steer Clear of the Beer

Those of you that follow me on Instagram know that I love a good beer.   I don't over indulge, I usually just have one, maybe two.  I find that sometimes, if I have two, it can affect my sleep.  I end up tossing and turning and not sleeping well and we all know how important a good nights sleep is, especially two days before a race.   Some people have no problem drinking beer the day before a race.  I am not one of those people so I choose to avoid it for at least 3 days before the race.  Afterwards is an entirely different story.  I have an amazing bottle of Pumpkin Ale waiting in the fridge for me for after the race next week.

No New Foods!

I am a creature of habit in terms of my diet and my body knows that.  I try to feed it things that its used to eating in the days leading up to the race.  The last thing you want is any sort of stomach upset or digestive issues because you've eaten something you're not used to eating.  Race morning jitters are more than enough to keep me in the bathroom, let alone eating something I'm not used to the day before the race. 

Focusing on these things in my "down time" this week, should help me deal with the tapermadness crazies that will inevitably start to creep in sometime in the next few days.  Lucky for G he is away for work this week so he won't be around to have to deal with it.  I think he planned it that way.   Smart fella.  Maybe I should just save it all up for Friday night when he gets home and unleash it then, ha ha. 

Truth be told,  as of this moment, I'm feeling pretty excited about next Sundays race.   Let's see how I'm doing come Friday.

Do you have anything you'd add to this list? 


rojublake said...

Great reading and great advice PK. Your experience can teach us newbies a lot, especially with regards to preparation! (In my case, lack of it!) I wish you every success at next Sunday's race - you sure do deserve it!

Phaedra Kennedy said...

Thanks RB! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Unknown said...

wow! This was as good as any "Runner's World" article I've ever read. Some really helpful advice, and very timely given my first race of the season is in 2 weeks. thanks!