This is my experience on nutrition and “preparing” before a big run or race event. I have learned from my mistakes over the years. What works for me might not work for you, but some of these things have been extremely beneficial to me and many of my athletes to incorporate.
7-4 Days before:
Mentally Check in with your body. How are you feeling? Are you sore? Do you need extra rest? Is something flaring up? I spend this time to become very active in the recovery process.
1- cut back on mileage 5-25% depending on how you feel
2- taking epsom salt baths, stretching, foam rolling, wearing compressions
3- increasing hydration and electrolight intake
4- Positive self talk & reflect on positive race or long run experiences from the pace
3-1 Day before
Continue to mentally check in with yourself on how you are physically feeling and cut back as needed
1- take an additional rest day if needed
2- Plan out your long run on a map (http://www.geodistance.com/) OR view a map of your race to mentally prepare for the big day!
a- Plan out where water stops will be
On Long Runs: I like to drink water on runs over 90 min. I will typically stop for water every 45 min. This will vary for everyone
During Races: I take water and gaterade at almost every stop
b- Plan out when you will take fuel
On Long Runs & Races: I like to use a Gu (clif shot expresso flavor) on runs over 2 hours. I will usually take them @ 45 min, 90 min, 2 hours, & 2 hours 30 min.
c- Do you know where the bathrooms will be?
I usually only stop during my training runs, but it is very important to know where these are! The last thing you wanna do it be stuck without a bathroom 🙂
3- Continue to hydrate and eat your regular diet. If you are hungry, eat more- now is not the time to starve yourself or try to cut back on calories (you are an athlete!).
4- Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep! Go to bed early! I also try to get my body used to the time I have to wake up in the morning for the race or run.
5- Check the weather forecast & mentally prepare for the race day conditions
12-24 Hours before
1- Make sure you are eating enough. I try to eat foods I am used to and high nutritional value and lots of carbs. IE skipping dinner and eating a blizzard at 8:00pm probably not the best idea, but I am sure it has been done!
2- Find race day or long run outfit & make sure you are stocked up on gus or gels if you use them
My personal rules of thumb for weather:
below 10- dress in as much layers as possible. Cover face and neck
15-25 – Wear at least 2 layers
25-45 One layer long sleves (thermal) & leggings
45- 55 this is where I see the most variation in what runners wear.. anything goes
55-70 shorts and tank top
70+ sports bra and shorts
Raining? Water protection for phone or ipod
3- Make sure you have your morning breakfast planned and available– eat what you normally eat the morning before a long run
My “go-to meal”: bagel with PB- sometimes add a banana & a protein bar
Night Before going to bed
1- Lay out your running outfit (socks, shirts, gloves, arm warmers, shoes, etc) make sure you have everything out and ready for no surprises
2- Make sure your garmin is charged or charging. Do you have a backup plan in case your garmin malfunctions? App on your phone? Stop watch? Be prepared
3-Set your alarm for the correct time. Mentally plan out your morning. How long does it take you to take a shit after drinking coffee? How long do you need to digest food? How long will it take you to drive there, etc?
4- Once steps 1-3 are done, try not to think about the race. Turn the TV on and read a book
Morning of Big run or Race
1- Get out of bed immediately, don’t press snooze!
2- If you usually have coffee or something to drink in the morning, I would do that right away to wake your body up and get things “flowing”… DON’T TRY ANYTHING NEW! I also like to eat right away with that so my body has more time to digest before I begin running
3- Use the bathroom MULTIPLE TIMES. I usually go 3 times before a big run. My husband goes 4-6 times before a big run or race. Neither one of us have ever had bathroom or stomach issues during a race. I like to think it’s because we “clean out”. I think this is something your body learns over time. If you can’t go, don’t panic or stress.
4-Do a mental check before you leave your house. Do you have everything?
Gels? Bibs? water? hydration pack? extra layers? watch? Earbuds? Throw aways to keep you warm before? snacks? protein shake for after? Ipod?
5- Make sure you get there early enough to use the bathroom or get your bib if needed.
During the run
1-Follow your pacing plan & fuel plan.
2- don’t go out to fast 🙂
After the Run
1- Do a cool down and let your HR drop before you sit down. Stand or walk around for a few min to catch your breath
2- After your cool down, grab your water and recovery shake and do some light stretching
3- If it is cold out and/or you are wet, you will need to start thinking about getting dry clothes on within 5-10 min of stopping otherwise you will get very cold fast
Next 24 Hours
1- Put on compression socks or pants
2- eat nutritious foods and take your supplements as usual if any
3- foam roll, yoga, relax!