Race week can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Rather than save that stress until the night before the race, make your life easier by taking the entire pre-race week to prepare. None of these suggestions take more than a few minutes, and they can save you hours and stress.
Follow this day-by-day plan and show up to race day feeling confident, prepared and ready for anything.
You’ve put in the work. That means there’s no more time for a huge, last-minute workout. Even if you’re running a marathon and missed the final 20 miler in your training plan, this isn’t the time to make it up. Stick to your training plan and taper appropriately this week, no matter how tempting it is to sneak in a few extra miles. You continue to run: In fact, tapering shouldn’t mean absolute rest days, just a reduction in volume and intensity. If you’re feeling nervous, a week out is still a good time to ‘game play’ your race day. Do your training run at the same time as your race start, and test the timing of breakfast, race snacks and drinks and race-day gear.
This is the time to check in with your family and/or your co-workers. Early on, you’ll want to eliminate stress as much as possible for the week ahead. Take this day to clear your deck for the rest of the week, whether that means doing a big grocery shop or devoting some extra work hours.
First, make your packing list for the race and for whatever else you’ll need for the weekend, from a feel-good novel to read the night before to comfy sweats to pull on post-race. Then, lay out all of your race necessities, really spreading them out on a flat surface to see it all together. Make sure you’re not missing any food, drop bags, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc. This is also a good time to do a quick check of your gear: You won’t be able to break in new shoes for the race, but check your shoelaces. Make sure your shorts and shirt don’t have any random holes, and check that there’s actually drink mix in your sports drink canister.
If you’re traveling to a race, check your flights, rental car and hotel bookings a few days out, so that if there are any last-minute mistakes or changes, you can deal with them ahead of time. Save your flight info and hotel reservation numbers somewhere easy to access and write down your travel itinerary somewhere handy.
Even if your day seems straightforward, make a full race itinerary. That includes your travel. Also, include what your family is going to do if they’re with you. List all the race details in this itinerary, including packet pickup, race start time and — again, if you have family coming — locations of spectator spot along the course and when they should arrive. The more prepared you are with this, the less stress you’ll have on race day.
Sounds like a bummer, but with only a couple days to go, it’s time to avoid spicy and troublesome foods. Cut back on fat and big amounts of fiber in the 48 hours before your race to cut down on gastric distress. It’s also time to stop eating from that tasty-but-less-than-sanitary food truck outside of work or taking a bite of your sick kid’s cookie. Pretend you’re in a bubble.
Visit the race site and pick up your packet and race number. Preview the course, walking the start and finish areas or maybe even do a light jog. Keep dinner simple, and lay out clothing and food for the morning, including a post-race bag with clean clothes. That way, you can tuck and roll out of bed in the morning, eat breakfast and go straight to the course.