"What do I need to do race week to set up a great race day?"
So it’s finally here. It’s Queen City Marathon race week and race day is only a few sleeps way. In the follow article, we are going to lay out some key strategies to help you be prepared to deliver a great race day performance.
As coaches we usually see two mindsets surface a week out from the race. Chances are you fit into one of these scenarios:
Months of your time, dedication, and training are now complete. You know you have prepared the best you can and you can’t wait for race day to arrive. You are excited and ready to release this energy on race day!
You’re feeling nervous, maybe even a little anxious. Not sure how the day is going to go. Maybe your training has not been very consistent due to life circumstances or perhaps you’ve been dealing with an injury. You’re questioning if you have done enough training. You are doubting your ability to meet your own expectations on race day.
The common theme within these scenarios is the mind is busy. As BJ Gallagher writes in her article Buddha: Learning to Tame your Monkey Mind,
“Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly. We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention.”
Whether you feel confident in your preparation and full of energy or doubting your ability to do well, letting your “monkey mind” run wild on race week can leave you feeling drained on race day. We have experienced this and seen it happen to even the most well prepared athletes.
The best way to keep your monkey mind in check is to develop a race plan. A race plan will allow you to focus on the most important things during race week and give you a place to address your monkey mind thoughts so they don’t become an energy vampire. Also, this will help to relieve any stress created by forgetting things or having to rush around as you get close to race start.
Follow these 7 steps to develop your successful race plan:
Write down the outcome/result you want to achieve for this race. For example this could be your goal time, to cross the finish line, run the second half of the run faster then the first (i.e., negative spit), etc. We refer to this as your outcome goal.
Write down the 3 process goals. These are most important things you need to do to achieve your outcome goal. For example, these could be things like complete a solid warm up, run tall, positive cues (I am strong, quick light feet, etc.), controlled breathing and effort, and follow your nutrition plan. These become your main focus during the race and allow you to stay present and focused on the most important moment, which is the moment you are in. If you execute your process goals on race day you will have the best opportunity to achieve your ideal result.
Map out your commitments (work, family, travel, picking up race package, etc.) and training for the week. Remember at this point all of the hard training is done and your fitness will not improve with more hard training. Trying to cram in more challenging sessions this close to the race can leave you feeling flat and tired on race day. Race week is about keeping your normal daily, sleep, eating, and training routine. Training sessions should be short, primarily easy, with small bits of race intensity sprinkled in which will not cause any lingering fatigue. As we mentioned in our previous article - Nothing new on race week.
As we like to say “Know the flow so you know where to go”. Know the course, aid station locations, and race event schedule so you can plan when you need to be at the race, where to park, etc. Make sure you review your race plan and know the race morning schedule so you can complete your warm up and be ready for the start of the race.
Visualize yourself performing well. As you look through the course map visualize yourself running strong and confidently in each section. Think about possible things that could go wrong and plan your solution ahead of time (i.e., cramp, blister, strong headwind, hot/cold temperatures, etc.). By thinking about your plan of action ahead of time, like in the case something challenging happens, you free up your mind to focus on your process goals.
Make a gear list early in the week (see below for some suggestions on what you need) to ensure you have everything you need for race day.
Have fun and smile! Trust in the training you have done. Remember why completing this race is important to you. It’s a privilege to be able to participate. You GET to do this, and that is pretty awesome!
The Gear List
Here is a short video outlining the essential gear for race day:
As we mentioned in our previous article, it important to consider race day temperature when considering your clothing choice for the race.
Some photos of Jen’s race gear:
Pre - Warm Up Gear
Long sleeve t-shirt
Warm Cap (if needed)
Gloves (if needed)
Light running/rain jacket for warm up
Motivational Note/Focus Reminder
Heart rate monitor strap (optional)
Body glide or preferred lubricant
Bottle (to sip on prior to event and to have for when finished)
Fitted Jacket (optional)
Race Belt and race number
Fuel belt, handheld, hydration pack (optional)
Race nutrition/hydration (if not using what is on course)
Salt/electrolyte tabs (only if you have used these in training)
Post race clothes (think comfort and dry - rain jacket just in case it’s wet) with comfortable shoes (and new socks) or sandals
Prefered nutrition and hydration
Band aids/blister care
Come visit us at the QCM expo this year. We would be happy to meet you and answer any questions you may have.
Patrick and Jen
Patrick Ash and Jen Ruland are coaches with Regina-based coaching company Endurance Journey Coaching. They are available to help you improve your performance here.