Whether you are part of the FitBitch club training for a half marathon (Palma, Nice, Brighton, etc) or a marathon, then make sure you don’t mess up all your good training with that all important week before.
1. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water does not mean waking up on the morning of the race and necking 3litres of water.
It means drinking plenty of fluids (2 litres a day, is a good rule of thumb) every day, regardless of whether you are running or not. It keeps the muscles hydrated, helping them to recover and ensures performance is not compromised on the day of the race itself.
On race day? There are always plenty of water stations but drinking out of plastic cups on the run is a skill that few master. Far better to take a water bottle on a belt or hydration pack (DO NOT carry a bottle which can affect your running gait and posture).
2. Eat well
You don’t need to overdo it, particularly if you are doing a half marathon or less. But do ensure you are eating a healthy balance of protein, carbs and essential fatty acids in the week before a run, not just the night before. Don’t rely on a protein only dinner, as your muscles need to have a store of glycogen for the run (over 90mins).
3. A bit of salt?
If you are running a half marathon distance or over, and the conditions are hot, it is a good idea to have water with hydration salts (www.nunn.co.uk are good). When you sweat, you lose electrolytes and these help your body to retain fluids and are believed to help prevent muscle cramps.
4. Don’t mess with it
That is, don’t change your running shoes, socks, what you eat before you run or even add hydration salts to your water if you haven’t tested it out beforehand.
When you run a race, particularly if you are a first timer, you want to feel as comfortable and sure about those things that you can control. So eat the same pre-run breakfast, and don’t suddenly try out a new pair of shoes.
5. Pre-run breakfast
When do you eat before a race? Most studies recommend between 90mins to two hours. But stick with what you know works for you, and the type of breakfast that is good for running. One of the best is porridge with a banana or apple two hours before. Then take a start-line snack, such as a banana or healthy flapjack.
6. Nibbles on the run
You shouldn’t need to eat on a run unless you are running for over 90-120mins. But if you’re worried about needing a little boost to add wings to your feet, a great, easy to eat option is a few jelly babies or jelly beans. They do exactly the same as sports drink and they are easy to carry (admittedly, in Palma, they may get a bit sweaty!)
Don’t over do it on the week before a race. You don’t need to get out there and pound the pavements. You’ve done the endurance work, now sit back and pat yourself on the back for the training you have done and get ready to reap the rewards. No late nights, no alcohol (it dehydrates) and as little stress as possible.
8. But I’m so used to running!
You can run but the best thing to do is a short tempo run to keep the body and muscles ticking over. Come to our Wednesday session Palma runners to help with your final preparation.
Your body does most of its recovery and repair work at night when you are sleep. If you are the kind of person who feels guilty if you’re not doing something, don’t. Getting sleep is vital for your health and for you make the gains you have worked so hard for.
10. Post race
Get your race pack and everything you need to take with you on the day ready a week before so you are absolutely sure you have everything. This includes safety pins for putting on your race number (although it’s a good idea to put this on your race shirt the night before), warm jumpers and gloves if it’s cold, flip-flops, sun tan lotion, running sunglasses if it’s hot. Plus, if you are heading overseas to race (Palma lot!) take your foam roller if it fits in your suitcase and any other things you use to help you recover.
And lastly, don’t forget, your socks (yes, I have, really!)