Well, here we are. Less than a week until your race, are you ready?! Hopefully, by this point you have been spending weeks, if not months, preparing for this day. You’ve spent hours upon hours running, lifting weights and improving your nutritional habits. The majority of the work is complete, and now you can have fun while getting a great time on your 5K! There a few final vital notes I want to discuss, so you are as prepared as possible.
We are going to address a few tips and tricks (both nutrition and exercise based) for three critical times surrounding the race. The most important recommendation I have is not to change the types of foods you consume within the couple days before a race. Food effects everyone differently and we all mostly know what our bodies can digest and handle.
If you don’t typically eat pork, don’t add that in the week of the race. Don’t change the type of dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.) that you consume. If you notice that your stomach doesn’t do well with eggs, avoid eggs that week.
What it comes down to is, don’t add or change any foods that are not in your current rotation. This is the best way to assure you don’t have an adverse reaction the day before or day of the race. With that in mind, there are some small things you can focus on to feel 100% on race day.
THE DAY BEFORE:
1. Water, water, water! Make sure you stay hydrated all day long to keep joints fluid and to reduce the chance of muscle cramping
2. Meals: Again, don’t drastically change any of your meals, but try to add in extra carbohydrates throughout the day with a primary focus on dinner. Add an additional slice of bread, some pasta, a portion of rice, etc. By increasing your carbs, you will have higher stores of glycogen in the body which is used to fuel muscles and keep you energized throughout the race. A 5K is not an excessively long race, so you don’t need to really “carb-load, ” but adequate carbohydrates ARE essential.
3. Exercise: You don’t want to exert too much energy today so that your muscles and body feel 100% rested and ready for tomorrow. I do recommend walking for at least 20-30 minutes and doing some dynamic stretching to stay loose but no running or lifting.
THE MORNING OF:
1. Water: Again, consume at least 1 medium sized glass of water to hydrate those muscles!
2. Breakfast: Consume a small meal/snack that is primarily carbohydrates about 1 – 1.5 hours before start time. Some ideas are a slice of toast with peanut/almond butter, a handful of homemade granola with berries, or a small portion of oats with hemp seed and fruit.
3. Warm up: Before your race, try to do at least 10 minutes of jogging with a few speed intervals in there (20-30 seconds where you pick up the pace a bit) and dynamic stretching. Focus primarily on ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders during your stretching.
AFTER THE RACE:
1. Cool down: Do at least 5-10 minutes of walking and static stretching following your run
2. Consume: Again, water to rehydrate and a snack within 30 minutes to an hour after finishing the race that focuses on both protein and carbs. Think Almonds and a banana, small homemade protein shake, or protein bar and apple.
I know this may seem straight-forward, but the few days before the race can entirely make or break your training. If you eat one really “off” meal a little too close to race day, you could feel awful the morning of even though you have been training for months. Try to minimize that risk by keeping foods as routine and bland as possible.
Congratulations again on getting this far and I hope you feel like a million bucks on race day! Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your training, and if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.