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The last week before a race

How to train in the lead-up to a race

The final few days before a race can decide whether you run really well or poorly. Many runners find it difficult to get the last few days correct; they either overtrain or talk themselves out of performing well. Think of race day as wages day; time to collect what is owed to you and see what you have worked so hard to get through your running traiming.

Physically coming up to your race you should be fine; if you’ve trained hard enough, and over a long enough period of time, you will be able to cope with the distance. The hardest part will be the mental preparation and your brain telling you strange and conflicting things about how your body feels.

Think positively about your race
Banish all thoughts about not being prepared, or too tired, and concentrate on what you have done and what you have achieved in training in the last few months. It is important to ease back and rest for any race, otherwise you won’t get the best out of yourself and you could under-perform.

Rest and relaxation before your race
The final week before race day should be a gradual decline in mileage and an increase in rest, recovery and sleep. Not everybody likes to have a complete rest day before they race, but it is important to ease back so your body does recover and physically gets ready to perform to new heights. Work backwards from race day and plan your last four to five days like a military operation. Make sure you get a couple of early nights to bank some sleep.

Eating the night before the race
Make sure you eat something you know is okay for you and you have tried and tested before race day. It is a good idea to experiment with foods during your build up. If something doesn’t agree with you (and you will know it) then definitely don’t eat it before the race. Write a list of good and bad foods so you don’t have to think about what to eat when you are tired after a run. You can eat as much as you want to, but the day before race day it is wise to eat often but small amounts.

Stay hydrated
It is just as important to stay hydrated, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids. You should drink around four to six ounces every hour that you are awake leading up to your race. Try and eat more healthily in the final week and make a special effort to eat more vegetables and less fat.

Your race gear
Be prepared! Make sure you lay out your race kit, which you plan on wearing to race in, the night before the race. It is so easy to forget something on race day, so make a list to remind you of everything you need.

On race day
Extra sleep won’t help you now. Get up, shower, eat, drink and get mentally prepared. Your body will function much better on the starting line if you have been up and active for a few hours beforehand. Stay away from fried foods and remember this is not a time to experiment! Bread and jam are a safe bet if you don’t feel like eating anything at all.

Don’t be late. The race won’t wait for you
It is advisable to arrive at least an hour before the start of the race. This gives you plenty of time to check out the start and get your bearings. Traffic is always bad on race day so take this into account. This advice goes for the toilet as well. There will always be a queue so be prepared and factor this in to your arrival time.

Get warm and stay warm
You will be nervous, but you still need to warm up. By getting your warm-up started, it will focus your mind better and get you ready for the race, in addition to relieving some of your pre-race anxiety. Your warm-up should not wear you out, so make sure you only do easy jogging, around ten minutes will do and some light stretching to keep and stay warm.

Nearly time to go
Get to your start position early as there will be a lot of runners around you all heading for the same spot. When the gun is fired, don’t panic, try to contain yourself and keep the pace easy for the first few minutes, this may be forced on you by the sheer number of runners around you. If you start off too hard you may well be miserable for the majority of the race and may have difficulty finishing. Once you are into the race, settle in at a pace that feels comfortable to you and enjoy the scenery.

Think positive, you have worked hard for this so it’s time to enjoy yourself and reap the benefits of all those hard training runs you have been doing.

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