By Anne B.
Howdy Ramblers! I hope everyone’s week is going well! I turned in my biggest assignment of the semester so I feel a little bit less stressed. I still have a ton of assignments and a final exam I’m not ready for, but at least it’s one more thing to check off the to-do list. I only have three more weeks until I am completely done with school and I cannot wait! Even though I’ve been working out pretty much everyday, I haven’t had time to go for a run outside in so long! Now that the weather is warming up (hopefully) and that school is coming to an end, I’m ready to get back into running my 10k’s and maybe even sign up for some future races!
So how do you get ready for a race so that you can hit your goal? Well, I figured I’d share a few tips so we can get ready together y’all!
If you’re already a very active runner, then this isn’t as important because you’ll probably be in shape for a last minute race. For me and anyone else who’s not in that super active runner category, try to plan at least a couple weeks ahead, especially if the race is out of town. This way you can start getting into shape for whatever your goal is - whether it’s to run a certain time, run the whole race, or run a certain amount of the race!
Make sure to prepare your race bag the night before (or earlier if you have to travel). Some good things to include in your bag are snacks, water, electrolytes (ie. Gatorade or powder), chocolate milk, your wallet, any necessary tickets or papers for the race, a change of clothes, your phone, and some headphones if you like to listen to music. Before the race, you can put your bag in a designated area or leave it in your car, depending on the race.
Find a Running Buddy!
The best way to get ready and motivated for a race is to find a running buddy to run the race with you! You can go on runs together the few weeks (or more if it’s a longer or bigger race) leading up to the race. Having a buddy who is at about the same level as you is the best because you can push each other equally and keep a pace that you’ll both like during the race.
Even if you can’t find anyone to run the race with you, you should still find yourself a running buddy! Bringing someone in to help you with your running goals will keep you accountable and motivated. Running with someone usually pushes you to run a little harder and it’s more fun. Ask a friend or family member to go on runs with you or at least send you reminders every day to keep training.
Get the Right Gear
You don’t need the top, super expensive gear in order to run a race (unless you’re a professional athlete but if you were you probably wouldn’t be reading this haha). I’ve run a lot of races with my Saucony shoes. This aren’t the cheapest, but they aren’t top of the line either. I’ve been able to run races with them even after running with them for a couple of years.
What I’m saying is that you don’t need to drop 100 bucks for a pair of running shoes if you can’t or don’t want to. However, I do think it is important to have a pair of RUNNING shoes (or go barefoot if that’s your style). This is especially important for longer races because you want a pair of shoes that will support your feet, your arches, and won’t give you a ton of blisters. Having a good pair of shoes will also prevent other injuries like shin splints or knee problems.
Clothing-wise, I would definitely recommend wearing some breathable clothes meant for sports so that you don’t end up running in a drenched shirt. If it’s colder out, then make sure to wear layers! I know you’ll warm up as you run, but if you start the race cold, it’ll take longer for you to warm up. Plus, you’ll be more likely to catch a cold. I also recommend getting some running socks that are made for preventing blisters. You’ll be so happy after the race when you don’t have a bunch of blisters under your foot or on the side of your toe.
Rest Before The Race
Everyone knows it’s super important to get a good night’s sleep before a race. However, you should also be resting your muscles. Don’t go on a super long or hard run the day before a race. That will just tire you out and make you sore for the race. Instead, if you really want to go on a run, go on a slow jog for 10 - 20 minutes and finish it with maybe 30 seconds to 1 minute of a fast sprint. The sprint will be nice before the race because it’ll stretch out your muscles a little bit and improve your rate of lactic acid removal.
You should also try to stretch out your muscles the day before the race so that they don’t feel as stiff for the race. This should also lower the chances of getting serious cramps during the race. Another way to prevent cramps is to stretch and warm-up properly right before the race.
Last but not least, the most important part of getting ready for a race, whether it’s weeks prior or the night before, is to properly feed your body. Running uses up a lot of energy and nutrients, so it’s important to keep refilling your tank when needed!
You’ve probably heard that the main thing runners eat are carbs. Well, that’s accurate. Carbohydrates like pasta and rice will keep your body fueled for races and for more intense training days. This doesn’t mean you need to eat carbs every day. For instance, on easier days, you should try to eat fewer carbs and have more balance between carbs, proteins, fats, and vegetables.
Loading up on carbohydrates because very important two days before the race. 48 hours before your race, you should increase your carbohydrate intake by eating a lot of pasta, rice, bread, etc. You should also eat some vegetables and some kind of protein so that your body has all the nutrients necessary.
Besides keeping your nutrient level up with food, it is also important to keep your body hydrated! You won’t be able to run the whole race if you are dehydrated. When you are training for your race, make sure to drink lots of water and electrolytes. 48 hours before the race, when the carb-loading starts, you should increase your water intake as well.
Finally, if you want to eat before the race, then eat at least one hour before you start running so that you have enough time to digest your meal. Running on a full stomach is always a bad idea and you’ll probably feel like throwing up for most of the race. I would also avoid dairy because that can make your stomach feel horrible during the race, even if it has been an hour. Instead, save that chocolate milk for after the race! On my side, I actually don’t eat a real meal before a race. I prefer to run on an empty stomach because I know if I eat a meal I will probably get sick, even if an hour has passed in between. That’s just the way my body and digestive system is.
Right before your race, you could take a Gatorade energy chew or Clif shot block to give you a little energy boost. Personally, I think these are delicious so I always try to take one. I don’t recommend eating any hard power bars, however, as those are usually harder to digest. Bars that are on the chewy side should be ok but it depends on how your body digests. If you’re not sure, then it’s better to skip it!
Alrighty Ramblers, that is all I have for you! I hope you all feel ready for your next race! Let me know in the comments if you are going to be running a race this year and what kind!
Just Keep Running and Ramble On!