by Justin Daerr
The final days leading into a race are not a time to build fitness, but it is still a time where your decisions can maximize -- or hinder -- your upcoming performance. We all respond differently to things like travel, stress and training, so learning your individual right balance of everything in the days preceding a key race is critical to successful racing.
Here are five tips to help you establish race week routines.
- Develop your basic race-week training plan. I do not want to get into what amount of training you need to do in the final week leading into your key race; that has been discussed plenty on the Internet and it ultimately really depends on what your needs are. Through some trial and error, you should be able to establish what amount of training leaves you feeling fresh and ready on race day. Use some of your early season races to try different training weeks to build confidence in your plan.
- Find a travel plan that works for you. In most cases, major events will include some level of travel. Some athletes prefer to arrive at races as late as possible, while others prefer to travel a little earlier to reduce stress and recover from the journey itself. Certain races require you to arrive early because of registration and that needs to be taken into consideration. At any rate, learn what travel plan leaves you relaxed and ready to go on race morning.
- Develop a pre-race day nutrition plan. If you want to cook, great. If you want to eat out, great. Whatever the case, make that decision beforehand so you know what to shop for or where to go out. Some races might require you to bring food with you based on the destination. Don’t force yourself to have to try new foods or find new restaurants because of lack of planning.
- Choose your traveling companions wisely. Think of all your buddies. Now think of living with each one of them. Some might thrive as roommates a little more readily than others. The same idea applies when traveling to race sites and residing for several days (or longer). If you decide to travel or stay with others on your trip, make sure they complement your race plans accordingly. Some people can make your trip (and the race) better, while others might do the exact opposite.
- Establish routines that help your relax. We all respond to the anticipation of race day differently so it is important to learn what you can do to help you relax. I’ve heard of athletes watching movies, reading books, playing board games, etc. Whatever keeps your mind off the race and allows you to relax should be used (repeatedly) prior to racing.
You always hear that children “thrive on routine” and athletes are no different. Develop a race week routine that works for you and implement it over and over again. It will allow all that hard work you did in training to come to fruition on race morning.