With marathons back on, this blog considers factors that can help us now that race-day is just around the corner.
So, this is technically the night before race-day, but the importance of sleep in performance means that this factor gets a pass and simply has to be included.
Pre-race nerves are natural the night before the big event, to give yourself a better chance of getting some quality shut eye, remember the following sleep hygiene tips:
- Create a cool, quiet and dark environment for sleeping.
- Avoid use of devices in the hours leading up to bed.
- Limit stimulants such as caffeine close to bedtime.
Another general tip would be to organise your kit the night-before so you’re able to relax in the morning knowing everything is already packed up and ready to go and aren’t rushing around last minute trying to find your lucky socks!
Eat a proper breakfast! Ideally your breakfast should include a good source of carbohydrate and protein to maintain blood sugar levels throughout the day and ensure you’re adequately fuelled for the race.
Pick your carbohydrate source carefully: complex carbs will provide sustained energy throughout the day but are typically high in fibre which can cause gastrointestinal discomfort during races – so just be sure not to overload on the porridge or wholemeal toast!
There is no shortage of evidence for the ergogenic effects of caffeine when it comes to endurance exercise. If you have been using caffeine as a stimulant in your training, then race-day is no different. Ingest your regular amount, be it as a supplement or a steaming hot espresso with breakfast, as race-day is not the time to be experimenting with increased doses which may also elicit Radcliffe-esque gastrointestinal complications.
This point rings true for every aspect of your race-day too – stick to what you know!
Just because someone was handing out free energy gels at the start line doesn’t mean you should be slurping them down – your body might react completely differently to somebody else’s!
Seems obvious but it can be easily neglected on the morning of a race as you’re focused on other factors, but beginning a race insufficiently hydrated will put you on a back-foot before you even begin!
Sip little and often, again sticking to what you’re used to and avoiding consuming vast amounts of liquid in close proximity to the start of the race, as this will only slosh around causing discomfort.
Other quick tips include:
Dress for the occasion: keep an eye on the weather reports leading up to the race and ensure you’re dressed appropriately for the forecast.
On the clothing note, ensure you’ve got a set of warm, clean and dry clothes ready for once you’re over the line and done getting your medal-pics for the ‘gram!
Queue for the loo! You might not need it now, but things can change in the time it takes you to get to the front of the line – better out than in. A legend of the Marathon scene, Bill Rodgers was once quoted as saying “more marathons are won or lost in the porta-toilets than at the dinner table”.
And finally – enjoy it! All of your training has led up to this event so be sure to get there early to soak up the atmosphere, meet your fellow runners and get yourself in the zone.