You know there’s a big endurance event in town when you overhear super fit looking people discussing menu choices based on which have more white bread and less protein. I’m sure the locals wonder if a 1980s diet convention rolled in.
Apart from carb loading (which you can find an entire article on below), there are several things that I make sure to do in the days leading up to a big race.
1. Myofascial release. I carry a lacrosse ball (for my back, hips, chest and hamstrings), doubles ball (for my feet and calves), and a strap for PNF stretching. I pretty much have a ball in some terribly uncomfortable place every time I’m sitting, and am stretching every time I’m standing still. Sitting in the car/plane while traveling to a long race, gives me plenty of time to release tight areas. I feel like it does a pretty good job counteracting the tightness caused by sitting dormant in a little metal box.
My favourite new tool is the travel sized roller, it’s so small that it fits into my carry-on and it’s even high density foam. I can roll my T-spine and IT bands at the airport!
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a supple body and addressing any areas of tightness before heading out in obstacle course race.
2. Hydrate yourself (obviously). But start before breakfast and go light on the drink about three hours from bed – otherwise, race nerves and a full bladder will have you up all night.
3. Stay off your feet. Save explorations for postrace celebration.
4. Get pumped. Whatever movie, book, song or magazine that reminds you why you’re doing this. Get pumped up but don’t stress or go crazy. To paraphrase the mighty Prefontaine, unless you’re the previous years winner, you’re not good enough to be nervous.
5. Wear compression socks. Especially if you’re traveling, have bad feet or calves, or poor blood circulation.
6. Workout the day before. I always do a bunch of drills, jogging, sprinting and dynamic stretching. I have a pretty solid routine down but I usually mix it up a bit depending on what body parts need to be woken up. Taking the day totally off before a race leaves me feeling flat and stiff.
7. Bath and stretch. I like to have an ice bath, followed by an Epsom salt bath, followed by a long stretch and roll. Gentle stretching only. I’m old school – I know. Ice bathes are definitely falling out of vogue. Something about science and the fact the lymphatic system clears junk out of your pipes and ice water inhibits that, along with healthy inflammation. I like them though, they feel good after I do them. Or maybe, more likely, I just like to take on a poop-load of discomfort.
8. Set out all your race gear and nutrition the night before so you need to think of nothing in the morning. Preferably early: I do this right when I get to the hotel so I can relax the rest of the night. It’s also good practice in case you forgot something. Also, make sure your plans for the morning, waivers, etc. are all sorted out.
9. Don’t do anything you don’t always new. You’ve heard this in regards to race morning and racing itself, but this matters in the days leading up to an event almost as much. Never ridden a horse? Now’s not the time to learn.
10. Develop a routine. This follows the last point nicely. I have a day-before-race routine that I can just move through on autopilot. It really takes down the stress of a new place, new race and all that other unknown stuff that comes with OCR… especially the races themselves!
Remember: you can do whatever you want after you cross that finish line, and you’ll feel heaps better about doing it all with a successful race under your belt.