For the past few weeks and possibly even months, you've been preparing for today. We've all been there, race day, and you've got a few hours left before you toe the line. As soon as you wake up, you are flooded with excitement as if a happiness tsunami had just struck. Life seems to be glistening in a gold hue with the appearance of the sun. Soon after that point, like clockwork every time, your mind starts cranking out all the unfortunate possibilities.
Suddenly, you feel the nerves. Thoughts of "what-ifs" will inevitably creep into your mind no matter how many times you've placed that bib number on your chest. This is a completely natural feeling. As uncomfortable as it may be, it's simply how we prepare for what's in store. Luckily for you, we've got 3 excellent tips to help keep your mind and body ready for toeing the line on race day.
1. Fuel Your Body Days Before Your Race
Fueling your body in preparation for race day is one of the most important aspects of training. It cannot be overstated how important it is to consume the right carbohydrates beforehand. You can do this process 5-7 days before your race. Yet, it can also significantly affect your performance if it's done 3 days before your race begins. Follow this guide, and your body will have the perfect amount of glycogen stores to fuel you across the finish line.
Three days before your race:
- Aim to eat roughly 50% carbohydrates in all of your meals and snacks. During this phase, you'll carbo-load heavily. Consume complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain bread and pasta. Since your digestion process is slower with these carbs, your glucose absorption is slower. You need to give yourself enough time to digest them completely to perform well on race day.
Two days before your race:
- It is time to taper off complex carbs and switch to simple carbs, which digest faster. For this portion of your loading phase, white bread, pasta, and fruits are excellent sources.
- Save the treats for after the race! Despite the temptation to load up on foods that are high in saturated fats, such as doughnuts and cookies, these will leave you feeling sluggish the next day and should be avoided.
The night before:
- Stick to your simple-carb meal plan with a small serving of proteins and vegetables. Having a protein shake with a simple meal 3-4 hours before bed is ideal. When choosing your protein source, aim for a complete protein with all the essential amino acids needed for protein synthesis. Our Ultra Recovery protein powder is made with complete plant, or cricket-based, proteins so that your muscles rebuild and recover at an optimum rate.
2. Pre-Race Rituals and Visualization
Before race day, a solid plan is one of the easiest ways to calm your nerves. Follow it at all times. The pre-race ritual can give you a set of guidelines that keep your mind on track.
The night before, lay out all your clothes and supplies for the next day. On the day of, wake up early enough so that you have time to review the racecourse for elevation and turns, photo opportunities and the more minor details.
Another helpful tip is to give yourself the gift of time, making sure you arrive at least an hour early in the morning before the race.
The ritualistic practice of your plan can even boost your confidence, positively affecting your nerves. Worry is simply our response to exploring the unknown. There could be a million different outcomes on race day, but following your pre-race ritual will at least help you focus on the things you can control.
What happens next, well, that's fate.
The power of visualization is a great practice to incorporate into your pre-race preparation. Our reality tends to follow the direction that our mind is pointing. Taking a moment to visualize a successful race, whatever it may be for you, helps relieve the intimidation of the unknown. You can prepare yourself for future success by visualizing a win in the present.
3. Warm-up For Success
It's a common misconception that performing a warm-up routine will tire your muscles before the race begins. If you've done enough training, however, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Warming up before your race has numerous benefits, and 15 minutes of easy running won't deplete your glycogen stores nearly enough to drain your energy.
As your body warms up, your internal temperature literally rises and warms. This increase in core temperature prompts the oxygen in your body to move faster, which primes the muscles for the hard-running soon to come.
By following these three simple steps, you should be ready to tackle your next race with the utmost confidence.
If it's your first-time carbo-loading, think about doing a practice run a few weeks, or even a month, before the big race. It's crucial to find out which foods fuel your body the best and leave you feeling as comfortable as possible for when it's time to perform.
Look at all of our Nutrition Tips on our blog for more guides on what to eat before and after your next event.