Simple measures will keep you calm on race day.By Ed Eyestone
From the April 2010 issue of Runner's World
The night before the Olympic Trials Marathon in 1988, I was so wired I stayed awake all night tossing and turning in frustration. Part of that stress came from uncertainty: No matter how prepared I was, there were elements I could not control. Over the years, I've learned that a prerace ritual helps establish a sense of order and settles my nerves. Practicing a pre-event routine during training makes it feel more natural on race day. These simple steps can help you maximize your racing potential.
THE NIGHT BEFORE...
REVIEW YOUR PLAN Before 6 p.m., think about your race strategy and pacing, and use positive mental imagery to envision yourself running strong and finishing fast. But after six o'clock, give it a rest. Rehashing scenarios late into the night can trigger the sympathetic nervous system and make sleep more difficult.
CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT Lay out your gear, pin the number on your singlet, and thread the timing chip onto your shoe.
FUEL UP Eat a typical-size dinner complete with complex carbohydrates to top off your glycogen stores and activate the sleep centers of the brain. Although carbo-loading isn't necessary for races under an hour, carbohydrates digest easily and tend to serve as comfort foods. Eat slowly and avoid gorging yourself.
SET MULTIPLE ALARMS If I don't set at least two alarms, I wake up every couple of hours afraid that I've overslept. Don't depend solely on hotel wake-up calls—they're notoriously unreliable.
KEEP YOUR NORMAL BEDTIME If you knock off and hit the sack too early, you may end up staring at the ceiling and inviting more stress when you don't immediately pass out. That stress can further delay sleep.
ON RACE MORNING...
TAKE A HOT SHOWER A shower helps wake you up for an early start time, and passively warms your muscles, improving flexibility.
EAT LIGHT After eight hours of sleep, your blood sugar is low. Two hours before your race, eat a breakfast that will take the edge off your hunger without leaving you bloated.
STAY LOOSE, THINK POSITIVE As I wait for the start, I keep my muscles loose by shaking out my arms and legs. I review my race plan, remember all the awesome, consistent training I've logged, and wait for the gun.
The Perfect Warmup
Do just enough to get ready for any race distance
JOG SLOWLY For 15 minutes, jog at a pace that is three minutes slower than race pace.
STRETCH LIGHTLY Complete the same stretching routine you do prior to track or tempo workouts.
JOG FASTER Run for five to 10 minutes at a pace that is within one minute of race pace.
ADD STRIDES Run several strides at a pace slightly faster than your expected start pace.