Pre-race preparation for running (ultra's)
If you have an event or race coming up and you are nervous, this article is for you! Here I describe my "pre-race check list", this is a personal approach but I hope it will give you some ideas.
Race preparation is important and should not be underestimated, because it can help you mentally, physically (your last trainings will be race specific) and logistically (you won't forget any gear or are forced to do last minute buys, and avoid a lot of last minute unnecessary stress and pressure). So here is my pre-race checklist, which starts several months before the race and continues until race morning!
2/3 months before the race
- Gain general knowledge of the course: distance, elevation profile, type of ground. To do this, I check the race website, look at race videos of previous years and read reviews.
- Estimate my race time: I usually look at the results of the previous years (check if there were course changes due to weather!!) and search for athletes that raced similar races as me. This allows me to compare their level to mine and allows me to estimate my race time.
- Book flights and accomodation and think about how I will get to (and from!) the race start and finish.
Two months before the race
These are probably the most important steps of your preparation. I select my race equipment and nutrition and make my training program "race specific". 2 months leaves me plenty of time to try out my gear and nutrition and make adjustments.
- Check mandatory gear list: I lay everything on the ground to make sure I forget nothing. I also select the clothing I will wear.
- Prepare a nutrition plan: Check this post! LINK
- Analyse the race in detail to know what to expect. Where are the main difficulties? How will I pace my race? Can I use drop bags, and where are they in the race? Where are the aid stations?
- Face my fears, find solutions and get ready in case you get in trouble. I write down the fears I have about the race and, most importantly, the solution or strategy to tackle these demons. A lot of unexpected things can happen during races, so I try to minimise these as best as I can. For example, what should I do if I am exhausted early in the race? I will walk for a minute or two, eat something, then restart at a low heart rate and only after 5 minutes go back to an intensity that seems right.
One month ahead
By now I should know exactly my race strategy and the equipment I will use. This last month I will put everything together.
- I do a long run that simulates my race. For example, if I were preparing for UTA 100, I would finish my run with a hill and some stairs.
- Stock up with all the nutrition I need and put it aside. That way I am sure to find the gels/bars with the taste I want
- I make the last adjustments in my training if I think that I need to work on a specific aspect of my running.
Last week before my race
- I put all my race equipment aside and make sure I forget nothing. This helps me to ease my mind and get my head into race mode.
- The evening before the race, I prepare all my gear and put my race clothes on a chair aside so that I don't need to think or worry about any of this on race morning.
This is it! I am excited to race and confident because I have done all the preparations in the past months to be ready as I can be. Bring it on!
- I always start the day with a shower so that I am clean which prevents shaffing.
- I put on my race outfit and put vaseline or anti-shaving cream on my toes to prevent blisters.
- I have my breakfast 2-3 hours before the start of the race and I make sure to eat slowly.
- I then relax with some music or look at some videos on the internet. I may have something to drink, such as tea, but I stop drinking one hour before the start of the race!
- Half an hour before leaving the house, I put my final layer of anti-shaffing cream on all the "shaffing-sensitive areas"! Not a step to be missed!
- Then I go to the start of the race and I take some lollies with me that I can eat just before start of race if I feel like it.
And when the gun goes off the fun really starts!