The past few weeks my Facebook feed has been filled with enthusiastic posts by my running friends talking about what races they have on their calendars this summer. Although many of my friends find races to do year round, every year the Salt Lake City Marathon feels like the official kick-off of our local racing season. It’s as if a collective cheer is let out by the local running community saying, “it’s racing season!”
The start of racing season is a time for runners to rejoice and a time for the spouses who don’t run to, once again, come to grips with the fact that they are now a runner’s widow until mid-October. During racing season, your partner may suggest a nice romantic dinner on Friday night, only to have their runner spouse reply, “honey, you know that I have a race tomorrow and that eating out would mess with my pre race ritual.” Your partner may also gently snuggle up to you, give you a suggestive look and touch only for the spouse that runs to respond, “not tonight honey, I have a long run in the morning.” If that is seriously your response to that situation, you may want to re-evaluate your commitment to the sport. 🙂
Every runner I know has some sort of pre race ritual that they follow. Even if it is the night before your first race, you will find that the night before your second race and every race after that, you will instinctively do many of the same things because they provide a sense of comfort that can calm pre-race anxiety. You may alter your ritual from time to time but, in my experience, most of your pre race habits will remain the same.
I have taken the liberty of writing the details of my pre race ritual below.
1) The Night Before:
- I eat a slightly larger dinner than usual. I eat early enough that I will not have GI issues the next day. In the past, I have made the mistake of overdoing my carbo loading the night before a race. Instead of eating a few extra carbs over the few days leading up to the race, I would load up on the equivalent of about three meals of pasta the night before. After coming down with a bad case of the “trots” a few times and reading up on how to properly carbo load, I learned my lesson.
- After carbo loading and helping put my kid to bed, I typically watch “Without Limits” or “Fire On The track” while enjoying my food coma. My wife is a good sport as she is not a runner but humors me watching these films over and over the night before a race. My wife is a saint and does not complain about my pre-race ritual.
- After the movie, as I am getting ready for bed, I lay out the clothes I will be wearing the next morning, so I don’t forget anything when I am half asleep and getting dressed. I lifted the picture below from Jonathan Carmpton’s Facebook feed since I didn’t have one of my own. Apparently, Jonathan follows the same process. Great minds think alike. 🙂
- Finally, I loosen the top of an Extra Strength 5 Hour Energy to guzzle down as soon as my absurdly early alarm goes off.
2) Race Morning:
- I typically eat some oatmeal or peanut butter toast before leaving my house and I pack an banana with me for the bus ride up to the start.
- Once arriving at the starting line, I typically run 2-3 SLOW miles to shake my legs out before the gun goes off. After getting these miles in, I complete my pre-race routine by having a GU 30 minutes before the race and 15 minutes before the race. I had a friend suggest I do this before the St. George Marathon in 2010 and I ran a BQ. I have been doing it ever since.
What are your pre race rituals? Do you have a favorite meal you like to eat the night before a race? Do you have a routine that you follow to help alleviate any pre race anxiety you might have? I would love to hear what you do to prepare.