I have a client who’s running her very first 5k and it’s in just a few weeks. Currently, she’s pretty calm, but experience tells me that the night before her running debut she’s gonna wonder what the hell she was thinking when she signed up for such a thing. We all do that, we do it no matter how many times we race, participate in a competitive event or sign up for something that’s new to us. It’s just the way it works.
My advice to my client and to the rest of the world is to remain calm. Freaking out uses valuable energy that you’ll need later.
If you were smart, you’ve trained and planned well for your challenge. Perhaps you even scoped out the course, or spied through the window of a dance class so you’d know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. You read the event information packet ahead of time and you have all your ducks in a row. It’s anticipating surprises that freak us out, I think. Maybe you remember when I did that stair climb in the B of A Building for charity a few months ago, I got all freaked out because at the last-minute I read a note in the race rules that said “do not crawl on the stairs.” Just reading that set off all sorts of horrific thoughts in my head. I imagined that people become so exhausted that they had to crawl to the finish. In the end, I found that I was being very silly as the race itself was a piece of cake (because I trained for it!).
With that, my best pre event suggestions are as follows:
- Get yourself completely ready a few days before your event. Make sure your cloths are clean, have good food in the house, read all the event info, collect your race number/chip everything you need so the last few days you can chill.
- It’s important that two nights before your event you get a good night sleep. You may be anxious the night before making for a less than perfect nights sleep so focus on two nights before. If you have a good sleep two nights before, the night before you’ll feel less anxious.
- Eating the night before. Frankly I never recommend stuffing yourself the night before. No matter how far, or what it is you plan to do. Remember, the more you eat the harder your body has to work to digest it. When your body works hard it gets tuckered out and can affect your sleep. Remember, you don’t want to carry around a pile of pasta in your gut while you attempt to race. Get what I’m saying here?
- What to eat the morning of your event can be tricky. The rule of thumb is, eat 2-3 hours before your event to allow your body time to digest the food (and so you don’t yack it up). That can be a problem when your event is in the early morning. From years of experience I’ve found that I can stomach oatmeal w/raisins & walnuts a couple of hours before seriously exerting myself. But, that’s come with years of trial and error and now I stick with just that. The most important thing I can tell you is that you need to practice eating just as you would anything else. As you train, try different foods and at different times. Not only will you figure out what to eat, and when to eat, you’ll find out what foods give you most energy. It’s trial and error.
- Bottom line, never try anything new the day of the event. No new food, drink, lotion, shoes, clothing, nothing! You have no idea how you’ll react to it so don’t take the risk. As far as shoes are concerned, it takes 2 weeks to break in new shoes so if you need new shoes get ‘em early (bike shoes too!).
- Lastly, have faith in yourself. Trust that you’ve trained and are ready for this exciting new challenge. As you lay in bed the night before say to yourself: Okay, self…this is how this is going to work… you’re gonna have a good night sleep and wake up feeling great. You’re gonna get to the event and you’re gonna go, go, go feeling great the whole time. Everything will be smooth and easy, and you’ll feel unbelievably great when you’re done. It works every time. Trust me.
Now, go make me proud…