The 24 hours prior to your big race can often make or break the last six months of your training. You have to be conscious of what you’re eating and when you’re eating it, the timing of your sleep, adjusting to the time zone, and coordinating final details. These quick tips come from my personal experiences as a runner and as a coach preparing athletes for races since 2013.
Clean the Pipes
If one of your biggest concerns before a race is making sure you’re “empty” at the start line, there are a few ways to ensure you can go before the gun goes off. Drinking half a cup of warm water or coffee and stepping outside will help get things moving. The change in body temperature and warm liquids tends to kick-start the process.
Eat your largest meal the day prior as a late lunch and have a smaller, carbohydrate-focused meal in the evening. This gives your body more time to process the bigger meal. Your body’s natural processes are tuned to a rhythm so if you eat earlier in the day before your race, your body should be a little ahead of schedule.
Gear Up the Night Before
Make sure to lay out your clothes and pack the night before your race. This is one of the simplest ways to ease the pressure of race day morning. Lay out everything you’re going to wear, eat, and need. I always pin my bib on the innermost layer of clothing I plan on wearing to avoid having to re-pin it in the morning.
If you’re doing a longer ultra, it can be easy to over-pack. I highly encourage packing the bare minimum you need through Aid Station #1, and then pick up essentials.
Know Where You’re Going
This is so simple, but when it’s dark and you’re anxious about getting there on time, knowing where you’re going is key. Go to the start line the day before at packet pick up, and make note of where you want to park. Drop a pin or mark it on your map app and then text it to yourself. This is especially useful if you are traveling to a remote starting location or where cell service could be spotty. If you start navigating while in service, most phones will still navigate when they lose reception.
Put in some headphones and give yourself five minutes to just chill out. Throw on a song that relaxes you before you get out the door. Budgeting time for this may seem useless but it helps drive your mindset for the day. It will increase your focus and help keep your anxiety at bay.
During those five minutes, I encourage you to visualize your race, review your mental race plan, and remind yourself of three things you are thankful for. Move forward in gratitude!