What an exciting time, when you decide to enter the half marathon, the bike race or the mud run with an obstacle course. Then after you sign up, it hits you: now what?!
If you don’t have a lot of experience racing, or you’re not as fit as you want to be, your race goal will become a training and prep challenge in a hurry! Relax and take these tips.
1. Give Yourself Time
If you’re not a trained runner, cyclist or endurance athlete, your best bet is to plan well in advance of your event. Give yourself at least a couple of months before race day, to concentrate on functional training that will help you prepare. A race is not a time to find out what you can handle. Instead, it’s a way to put your training to great use.
2. Get a Mentor
It’s smart to have a training buddy, and even better if that partner is someone who has the experience to advise you as you get ready. A seasoned racer in this event can help you learn what you should be focusing on, if you’re overdoing it, or if you’re not on pace to be ready enough. They will also serve as motivation, to let you know—it can be done and it’s worth it!
3. Vary Your Workouts
Though you’ll want to make sure you’re well-trained in the right mode for your race, competing in any event is aided by a total body approach. Runners, bikers, climbers and swimmers all benefit from a strong core and loose, supple joints and muscles. Don’t skip your yoga class or basketball league just to run or bike more miles. Your body will be better prepared for the stress of a race, and will thank you afterward, if you make sure you don’t get in a training rut
4. Hydrate Sensibly
Water is stored in your body. Drinking a bunch of water right before you race is not the wise approach to hydrating, though. Use the day before your event to drink plenty of fluids. It will help your digestion and your cells will be nice and plumped up to support your racing needs. On race day, sip water, don’t guzzle. You need to be hydrated but you don’t need to be bloated or feel your gut sloshing around the course!
5. Eat to Last (It’s not your last meal.)
Sure, carbs are your friend if you’re going to need energy when you’re competing in a race the next day! But you don’t need to stuff yourself with pasta before you go to bed. Spacing out your food intake is a much better approach. Enjoy a healthy mix of all the food groups the day before, and yes, some extra veg and whole grains can help your energy stores on race day. But you don’t want to make your stomach upset in the morning by forcing it to digest too much food, especially roughage and filling starches, from the night before.
6. Stay Calm
You might find yourself thinking too much about your event, if you’re really ready, and all the little details that you need to remember (your shoes, your bib, layers of clothes, etc.) … the truth is, unless you race for a living, you really don’t have too much to worry about. Prep your belongings the night before, and follow these tips… everything else about your experience should be all about the fun and challenge. Enjoy!