You have been training all winter for this time of year: race season!
A few of my athletes have already begun their racing season, many more are waiting anxiously for the day. I have had numerous conversations about race plans and strategies, as well as what you should not do in the weeks leading up to your race. I wanted to share a few of these ideas to keep in the back of your mind as you go into your own races.
DO NOT GO INTO A RACE WITHOUT A PLAN.
Racing plans have a purpose. It describes how you want the day to unfold. A good racing plan not only has the outlines the perfect day, but also has backup plans that may or may not occur throughout the day. You need to be prepared for everything. I ask my athletes to write down their plan so that they can continually rehearse and refine it so they can have it memorized by race day. This is a MUST in my book. Without a plan you are only setting yourself up for failure.
DO NOT TRY ANYTHING NEW ON RACE DAY
There are some athletes and coaches that say never try anything new on race day. While I completely agree, there are a few rare exceptions. For instance, one of my athletes raced last weekend and we tried some new things as a “dress rehearsal” for her A race. I wanted to mimic similar race conditions before the big dance. But don’t try something new at your A race. No new shoes, nutrition, gear, bicycle, etc. All of those things need to be tweaked and refined in the weeks leading up to your big race.
DO NOT THINK YOU CAN SKIP A WARM UP
I run a fifteen minute warm up BEFORE I run a marathon. I run the 5K course before I race on it. Some athletes think they can just show up and start running. Wrong. You need to warm up if you expect to do well. You may not be able to get in a swim before the start of the race, but bring stretch cords. Jog for 10-15 minutes and do some dynamic stretching and mobility drills. Preparing your muscles for race day will bring great results.
DO NOT GIVE UP – FINISH THE RACE
You may be having one of the worst days of your athletic career, but that isn’t a reason to walk off the course. It is these dark moments that you learn what you are made of. Don’t quit unless you have a serious medical reason as to why you can’t continue. The tougher days are the ones that will help define your character and motivate you in the future to push through the pain.