It really is an encouragement when your friends tell you that they read your blog (People are actually reading my blog! *SQUEALS*) and even push you to update frequently. Said “friends” that I’m referring to here are Swan and Gillian. They deserve to be credited because they gave me inspiration for this post. We were talking about this, among other deep and insightful things, over dinner yesterday. They had so many brilliant ideas/suggestions on what I could do with/write on my blog.
I gave it some thought and since I was running a race the next day (which is today, 23 Feb 2014), I thought I’d make a short list of what to do one day before race day.
This is a list of the 5 things that I do to prepare for a race. It is a pretty generalized list so I hope that you can benefit from it too.
- Chill Out
When I say chill out, I really mean CHILL OUT. Sit back, relax, kick your feet up and give them all the love and care they need before the big day. This is the best day to catch up on your favourite TV series or that book that you’ve been wanting to read.
I like to go for soothing massages, coffee dates or laze in bed till late afternoon. I try to get as much rest as possible. I would try to save shopping sprees and the running of errands till after the race. Yes, shopping is considered a WORKOUT. In fact, it is a FULL body workout. Carrying shopping bags/clothes, changing from one outfit to the other, walking around, sifting through racks of clothes to find the perfect piece, hunting for bargains……Phew.
So, if I were you, I’d handle the ‘needs’ first and save the ‘wants’ for later. If you are used to putting in a light workout before the big race, you can go for a swim or do some yoga, as long as it is not too vigorous.
2. Eat Well
Eat a well-balanced meal containing carbohydrates (mainly), some proteins and fats. It is as simple as that. If you are planning to carbo-load, do so wisely. Carbo-loading is beneficial if you’re aiming to achieve endurance. However, carbo-loading does not simply mean chowing down on any food that is high in carbohydrates.
There are many forms of carbohydrates. Load up on good and complex carbohydrates. Go for sweet potatoes (my personal favourite), brown rice and wholegrain bread/pasta. These are slow digesting carbohydrates, providing your body the long term fuel that it needs to finish the race. Carbo-loading should be done 2 days before the race as you cannot fill your muscles with glycogen from just one meal.
Avoid foods that are particularly high in fiber, foods that cause bloating or flatulence, spicy foods, dairy products or any other foods that may cause discomfort/irritation. The last thing you want is to feel “heavy” and “bloated” on race day. Constipation is usually unknown to runners. With all that running, your bowels tend to be more “active”. By staying away from those aforementioned foods, you are also able to avoid runner’s trots.
Favourite pre-race dinner.
A few years ago when I participated in my first night run, I used it as an excuse to carbo-load. I ate half a tin of butter cake, rice with curry and 3 scoops of ice cream 4 hours before the race. I still made it into the top 20 but it was one of the most uncomfortable races EVER.
It is also good to incorporate some proteins in your diet the day before the race. The proteins that you consume would be used to repair damaged muscles more effectively. Eat a light, satisfying meal. DO NOT stuff your face. Bear in mind that you are not consuming MORE calories per day that the usual – it’s just that more of those calories are coming from carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates + Protein + Healthy Fats – CHECKED!
3. Pack your Bag, Race Kit, Race Gear
Experience tells me that I have to pack my bag the night before a race. I used to do it on race morning, scrambling and fumbling around trying to stuff everything I need into my backpack. I either end up being late for the race or end up forgetting something ie: my watch or my hairband. Sometimes, it is not the “thing” that matters but the thought of having it that gives you the security.
When you’re nervous and filled with anxiety, the last thing you need is the thought of not having something that you usually run with (watch, iPod etc). On race day, it is your mental strength that matters. A small detour from your ritual/routine could throw you into paranoia.
PUMA PUMA PUMA!
Most runs are held on Sunday mornings. As I have church commitments, I have to pack an extra set of clothes for service. Sorry for the really bad picture quality. I am hoping to get my camera back, ASAP.
4. Prepare your Pre-race Meal
Try to prepare your pre-race meal the night before. This would give you some peace of mind and avoid race day mayhem in the kitchen. I had my fair share of race morning craziness – dropping eggs, spilling water and smashing bowls to the ground just to name a few.
Always be prepared. Whatever you choose to eat for breakfast, make sure that it has been tried and tested. This is not the time to be consuming something that you’ve never had before a race. Have something that is easy to digest and high in carbohydrates. This would ensure that you have enough energy to pull through. Some runners have their morning coffee rituals. If you must have coffee, take in as little as possible. This would allow you to avoid extra potty trips during the race. Drink a glass of water one hour before the race so that you’ll be well hydrated at the starting line.
I used to go to runs on an empty stomach. But I have learned that it is always better to have breakfast! My usual breakfast would be all-natural peanut butter on wholegrain bread topped with banana and chia seeds. Yum! The perfect balance of carbs, proteins and fats. This would be more than enough to give you that extra kick.
Most fruits are high in carbs as well as fiber – which may cause stomach discomforts/bloating during the race. Bananas and apples are my go-to, low-fiber choice!
I’m pretty fussy when it comes to my post-run meals. I usually pack my own snacks to munch on after the race.
Whenever I can, I would pack cold coconut water into my flask to enjoy after the race! Great way to rehydrate and replace lost electrolytes. YUM!
5. GO TO BED…..EARLY!
Ah! Guilty! I am usually filled with mix feelings of excitement, anxiety and nervousness. On a good day, I would be able to get a maximum of 7 hours of sleep the night before. But that is considered a luxury. I would normally only get about 2 hours of TROUBLED sleep. Meaning, I would be waking up every few minutes with my heart thumping, almost bursting out of my chest. It is the adrenaline rush on race morning that really gets me going. So thank your body for producing such amazing chemicals.
Sleep is good both mentally and physically. The lack of it can have a serious impact on your performance on race day. Relax, take deep breaths and hold it for 5 seconds before taking the next, clear your mind and you will eventually slip into dreamland (I hope!).
In related news:
I managed my first sub-50 for 10KM (9.5-9.6KM to be exact) at the ICE charity run 2014. My Personal Best.
Although I was being pushed around by other runners at the start of the race, I came in at number 6. Two uncles congratulated me at the end of the race. They said that I had a really good pace. This is not the first time that random runners have come up to me to either compliment or congratulate me. I am very grateful for all their kind words.
Sometimes, it is these comments that keeps you going. What a great way to start the week. Loads of support and encouragement from the running gang too. So much love.
In other news:
Gillian and Swan threw me a mini be-early surprise birthday dinner with cupcakes! <3 They are awesome like that. Don’t know what I did to deserve them.
Guys, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so supportive. You have no idea how much this means to me and your sincerity is what I need. Words simply cannot express how I feel.
Quote of the day:
“Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life.” – Haruki Murakami
Continue to push yourself. Never settle for less because you are capable of so much more. You will never discover what you can do by remaining in your comfort zone. Have the courage to go above and beyond your limits! Have a great week ahead!
OK, I really should get some sleep now.