Blogging is cathartic for a Dietetic Intern because it allows me to search for my niche in the Nutrition world. Obviously I know what my interests are, but writing tends to guide me in certain directions. I’ve been blogging for about 8 months, and I’ve realized that my passion lies in healthy food, making nutrition applicable to everyone, writing (obviously), public speaking, and exercising. I’ve written about fitness, but there’s a major part of my life that I haven’t written much about: running! I’ve shared easy ways to become a runner and I’ve mentioned that I am thankful for the ability to run, but I haven’t shared much of my running knowledge. So I would like to start a series of articles on sports nutrition and running. My first article will feature my pre-race rituals. Every runner has them! Mine derive from my education, and I hope they are helpful for runners who are at a loss for the right things to do and eat leading up to a race. I’m actually running a 15K this Saturday, so I thought it would be nice to share what I’ve been doing in preparation for the race. (For a race shorter than a 10K I don’t really stray much from my normal everyday routine. For a 10K or longer, I tend to follow these pre-race rituals.)
- For my first ever ½ marathon, I was running 4-5 times per week for 4-6 miles a time. Overall, I tried to run 20-30 miles per week to build endurance and strength.
- Now that I run consistently, I find that I don’t have to run as often to stay in shape. I typically run 3-4 times per week for 4-6 miles each run.
- If I have a race coming up, I will try to go for a longer run (7+ miles) to make sure I’ve still got it!
A week before:
- I don’t run! I’ve already put in the training by running consistently all year. Running the week before the race is just going to make my legs less able to withstand long distances.
- But I still exercise! I focus on strength training my core and arms, stretching, and foam rolling my legs. I also perform some basic yoga and pilates moves to refresh and loosen my muscles.
- I don’t drink alcohol. This may seem like common sense, but alcohol is dehydrating and interferes with sleep, and I want to feel hydrated and energized.
The day before:
- Drink plenty of water. I do this all the time, but I’m extra careful to properly hydrate leading up to a race. I always have my trusty water bottle with me!
- I go buy a bagel (with nothing on it) for the next morning. Bagels are a good source of simple carbs that will break down easily into fuel while running.
- I eat less vegetables than normal. I love vegetables but they are full of fiber, which can upset my stomach when I run.
- On the same note, I do not eat beans the day before a race. I’m a vegetarian and beans are a staple in my diet, but they contain a ton of fiber and will definitely lead to a wonky stomach during my race.
The night before:
- I lay out my outfit, so I don’t have to think about it in the early morning. For cold weather running, I make sure I have my headband and gloves.
- I pack my runner’s pack (okay, it’s a fanny pack) with chap stick, tissues, ID, metro card, credit card, some cash, a goo to keep me fueled after my stored energy runs out, and keys.
- Downloading new music is one of my favorite things to do before a race. New music helps keep my adrenaline pumping.
Morning of the race:
- Wake up about 2 hours before the race and have coffee, a bagel with a little peanut butter, and water. I love coffee, and caffeine has been shown to improve athletic performance!
- Foam roll. I have a foam roller at home, so I use it on the problem areas of my legs before a race. This is usually my calves, IT bands, and hip flexors.
There are many other things to do before a race, but that’s the protocol that I follow. For other ideas and tips, check out this Ultimate Pre-Race Running Checklist infographic by Fix. I definitely do all of these things (minus the showing up early part- ahh!) What are you pre-race rituals? Do you have any questions about nutrition before a race? Let me know, so I can write a post about it!