The journey to a race day is not a short one. Once you have completed your months-long training programs, broken in the right pair of shoes and made certain to drink your weight in water, there are still even more tips and considerations to take into account, especially in the week prior to stepping onto the starting line.
Here are six tips to keep top of mind:
Choose the right foods. Stay away from the big bowl of pasta that might give you a stomachache and aim for foods designed to boost your energy. Eating high-quality carbohydrates the days and hours before you run serves to keep you stronger for longer. Apples, raisins, beets and nuts are worthy suggestions.
Stay hydrated. A good rule of thumb: Beyond rinsing out your mouth every so often, drink very little water 30 minutes before your race. For the days leading up to the race, however, drink water often and daily: Aim for half your body weight in ounces. You don’t have to drink just water to stay hydrated either. Good substitutes are celery, cucumbers, radishes and/or zucchini, which are at least 95% water.
Protect your skin. Your race will probably happen in the daylight. Don’t forget to apply your sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) and make certain you apply it at least 20 minutes before your race to ensure it’s properly absorbed. Apply lip balm as often as necessary (even during your race) and consider wearing sunglasses.
Get rest (lots of it). Resting means tapering down and running less and not more in the two to three weeks before your big day. Stay off your feet as much as you can, whenever you can. Lastly — and this is integral — plan to get eight hours of sleep before you race.
Examine your route ahead of time. If you know where your race will be, drive along the route as a way of planning ahead and making certain there are no overwhelming surprises. This ensures you won’t get lost the morning of your race. It also will allow you to know when you’ve got to run fast or when you’ll have a couple miles to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Above all, don’t stress. Whether you’re running a 5K with coworkers as a team-building activity or trying to increase your level of exercise by running a considerably longer race, always remember to enjoy yourself. Most races will bring out the community: You’ll get cheered on from the sidelines and see a lot of friendly faces along the way. You’ve got this!
Orlando Health National Training Center
The NTC, part of Orlando Health South Lake Hospital, is a state-of-the-art sports and fitness facility located in Clermont, Florida.Learn More