I’m one of those people that is a creature of habit. Not really “set” in my ways, I mean, I am adaptable to change (after some moaning and whining) and open to new ideas and suggestions. This past weekend though, after my friend, Audrey, asked me about my “Race Day Rituals,” it dawned on me that even when out of my element, I am still a creature of habit and fall back to what I know before race day …
This is what I know about Row. the day before race day …
I make a list. It’s pre-set what’s on there. It’s the same thing every time. I have a hard copy on my iPhone, but I still hand write it all out so that I can check and double check that I remember.
I plan my outfits. I know it sounds a little silly but I need to mentally see what I’m going to wear on race day, then I make sure I have all the right components: Shorts, or capris, tank, compression shorts (if needed), socks, shoes, arm sleeves or long sleeved shirt, etc. If for some reason I have to change my outfit in the morning, it throws me all off.
I put the D-ring or timing chip on my shoe the night before. I also put my socks in my shoe because I am notorious for not being able to find socks!!!
I don’t put the race bib on until AFTER I get dressed in the morning because I stretch out my tank or shirt putting it on and it’ll pull the pins sometimes causing tears in the fabric. I don’t like holes in my expensive dri-fit clothing.
I make sure that my Garmin is charged up several times, and I look for the sweatband that I wear underneath it and keep them together otherwise I’ll forget and my Garmin is so huge on my that without the sweatband it slides and causes blistering and/or pain to my wrist bone from it hitting.
I always make my electrolyte water the night before and fill the water bottles that go into my iFitness belt and put them in the fridge.
I pack my iFitness belt with my Gu, S!Caps, and gum and make sure that I put my ID in my bag.
I make sure I know where my earbuds are and put them in my iFitness belt so I don’t have to frantically search for them in the morning because God knows that they could be anywhere because my Grace loves to borrow them!!!
I go to Starbucks the night before and purchase my Tall, Triple Shot, Non-Fat, No Whip Mocha and refrigerate it so that I can have it race morning after I just nuke it. I know you’re asking why I just don’t go to Starbucks the morning of … Well, it’s because Starbucks is usually not open until 0600 on Sundays and we’re usually well on our way to the race by then with no time to stop. I know that I could very well make my own coffee at home on race morning, however, there’s something in Starbucks Coffee that provides me with a kick. Their beans must be genetically and chemically engineered with something extra special in them that’s not in the expresso beans that they sell to the public. I do plan on experimenting with making my own coffee in the mornings though to see what does and doesn’t work, just not during race day though. I still don’t mind spending a few dollars for my race day coffee, refrigerated or not. I also get a sesame bagel from Noah’s Bagels or from the grocery store and eat it toasted with peanut butter.
Because I know that I don’t sleep well the night before a race, I make sure that I get some good rest the day before or the night before the night before the race. LOL! I know that doesn’t make sense, but seriously, they say that it’s not the rest that you get the night before, it’s the rest you get 2 nights before race day that counts. As I don’t tend to sleep that well, I try to get in as much sleep as I can, be it naps or whatever. Just get your rest.
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Pretty simple, short, sweet. It’s not complicated, and I don’t stress out on race day anymore. This list works well for when I’m racing out of town also. It helps me remember what to pack and bring. I never imagined that I had any race day rituals, but it turns out that I do. However, the most important one though, is the prayer that I say for myself and my friends who run … that God will run along side us and carry us to the finish when we get tired.
As a side note, here are a few things that I have learned while racing:
Carb loading should be done two days or more before the actual run, not the night of. If you’ve forgotten, then lunch the day before is probably best. Same thing for hydration. Limit your soda and alcoholic intake, and drink your water, or Gatorade, or whatever sports drink you prefer.
Check the labels of the electrolyte tabs or salt tabs that you use. Try them on your training runs. Remember that too much of a good thing is NOT always a good thing.
Nuun tablets should NOT be placed in your water bottle that you carry with you because what ultimately happens is that it’s effervescence will cause it to fizz and explode IN. YOUR. FACE!
Body Glide is your BFF. Put it on all over you in the places you believe you may chafe!
Never, under any circumstances, use new shoes on race day unless you have for some reason forgotten your shoes and you’re far away from home! It’s not recommended even if you have used the brand before.
Your feet will thank you if you use dri-fit socks. I love Balega brand socks. They’re comfortable, they don’t cause any blisters, they’re cushioning, and they protect your feet. There are a lot of good brands out there, the trick is to find the “right” pair for you.
Cotton is not your friend. Cotton is rotten while racing. Cotton shirts, especially cotton socks … no.
Don’t try any new foods on race day or the day before unless you want to frequent the portapotties along the course.
When it’s cold, I wear old sweats over my racing outfit as we drive up to the venue. I’m not much into discarding old sweats along the run so I haven’t tried that, but a lot of people do and they get picked up by volunteers who donate them to local homeless shelters. I’ve discovered the functional fashion of a garbage bag to keep my shoulders warm.
Compression stockings will be your BFF after running a long run! I love my Zensah compression stockings, and my InVigorators. They’re awesome and feeeeel soooo gooooood!
I really would suggest a list. The list will help keep you organized and help you to remember. Mental lists … don’t work for me as my mind is getting slightly foggy.
Unless you’re gunning for a time goal, have fun on race day. In all honesty, the only person that you’re racing is yourself. Everyone out there has the same goal as you … to cross that finish line. There’s no need for rudeness or ugliness. Encourage each other, encourage everyone. Thank the volunteers that are out there at the aid stations. Smile at all the photographers. Have fun!
**Disclaimer: I’m in NO way an expert on anything. I’m not offering any advice on anything. These are just a few things that I’ve learned along the way from experience. I’m just you average runner who has run a few races for FUN.**
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