Training for a race is hard work, so by the time the race finally arrives, you want to make sure you’re ready for the day in every possible way. Before you even think about crossing that finish line, be sure to prepare for the race appropriately, and consider the following list of what to do and what not to do before a race.
DO Fuel Up
Carb loading is one of the most popular methods of preparing for a race. You want your body to have access to as much fuel as it needs to run the distance. Other foods like lean meats will help provide your body with necessary nutrients. Be careful what carbs you load up on, though; you’ll want to do practice runs of meal options prior to the big day so you know ahead of time what makes your body run well and which foods slow you down.
DON’T Eat Too Much
This may seem like common sense, as a platter of meatloaf would logically weigh you down, but it’s important to strike a balance between getting enough calories with the proper nutrients and eating so much you feel sluggish. Running actually slows down your digestive system, so eating too much right before you run isn’t a good idea. Try to allow a solid half hour or more between eating and running to promote digestion and avoid cramping up, and stick to simple foods that aren’t loaded with sugars or fats.
Making sure your body is hydrated before a race is key. Water is the best resource to use, but sports drinks can provide your body with electrolytes and helpful carbs. If you go the sports drink route, you should research before the race to find out if sports drinks will be provided and if so, which brand. You should also train with that brand so that your body is accustomed to the contents. It’s advised that you drink around 16 oz. of water a few hours before the race begins.
DON’T Under or Overhydrate
However, you must be careful about how much you drink. Being dehydrated is obviously not going to help you run, but being overhydrated won’t do you much good either. Overhydration can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, where water intake is significantly greater than its output, resulting in low blood-sodium levels that can cause symptoms like confusion, fatigue, and in more serious cases, seizures.
DO Have a Positive Attitude & DON’T Doubt Yourself
Okay, these go hand in hand, but they’re both important. Your outlook at the start of the race may very well differ from your attitude at the halfway point. Just remember that you’ve trained for this race, you’ve prepared to the best of your ability, and remind yourself that you’re capable of reaching your goals. If you’re nervous, having friends and family positioned along the track to support you is one way to find encouragement. Listening to comforting, upbeat music can keep you on track, too. Find what motivates you and cling to it, and soon enough, you’ll cross the finish line and have another accomplishment you can brag about.