Before every major event, there are several things I do to prepare my mind and body so that I am able to perform at my best. In college, I never took race preparation seriously, which may have attributed to why I was not as successful. As I grew older and my interest in racing further developed, I started to understand the benefits of having effective planning for the various events I was competing in. Over the past few years I have acquired a few odd race preparation rituals or habits that I think have worked well for me; although preparing for a race can be different for every individual, these tips are worth checking out.
The first is eating high carbohydrate and sodium dense foods. I am not saying I eat this often; in fact, I only increase my carbohydrate and sodium intake prior to race day because my diet is generally the opposite (low sodium and high protein/vegetable). During long events, such as marathons and Spartan races, it is important for your body to store the extra sodium and sugar (glycogen storage) as it can take several days for your body to accumulate glycogen in your muscles where it is needed. Eating carb and sodium heavy foods has worked for me, but may not work for everyone; everyone’s body is different, however “carb loading” typically helps many people.
The second habit I have is the specific clothing I wear for a race. I wear the same socks, shoes, shorts, etc., and I make sure to take an “inventory” of my race gear prior to traveling for events to make sure I have everything I need for a successful race day. I believe that you should race in the same clothes you train in. Maintaining consistent training and race day attire helps to ensure there are no changes to how you feel during the race. Some clothing can chafe, and some shoes may even work against you if you are not used to them.
The third thing I do is make sure I take a rehab/therapy day pre-race or event. I don’t practice yoga, but if you enjoy yoga, it would work perfectly as a pre-race day activity. My method is light stretching throughout the day and foam rolling for about 30 minutes. I foam roll to break up any knots or tight areas to make sure my muscles are primed for the race. Another preparation technique I find successful is to prepare mentally. I try to relax most of the day making an effort not to do anything too exciting in an attempt to calm my nerves; for me, this can mean no action movies, taking a break from projects on the house, and in general allowing time to de-stress, mentally and physically. I think this does more for me than anything else to get my head in the right place when I get to the starting line.
I follow these three tips to prepare for any event I compete in. Eating foods high in carbohydrates and sodium, having consistent training and race gear and taking a pre-race rehab/therapy day, may not work for everyone, but if you are looking for some guidance to get ready for an event, you may want to try one or all of these tips to see if they work well for you. The important thing to remember, no matter what you do to get ready for a big race or event, is to find a routine that works for you and stick with it.
This is a guest post by Brandon Seale, a VPX sponsored athlete. He trains for Elite Spartan Races, Ultra Marathons, and various Endurance events. He enjoys training on the trails behind his home in Arlington Virginia. In order to reach his goal of training for extreme elevation and weather conditions, he is preparing for the 2014 Death Race!