I am a creature of habit. Nothing displays this more profoundly than my pre-race routines.
When it comes to racing, I think the routines are good. They get me in the right mindset and help me feel calm and relaxed so I can get a good night’s sleep before race day. Here are some of the things that keep me sane in the days leading up to a race that’s close to home. (I’m working on a post about racing out of town — those rituals are even more complicated!)
Three Days Before
I check the forecast and start thinking about what I’d like to wear. Then, I check my gear shelf to see if the clothes I want are clean.
If they’re clean, I set them aside so that I won’t wear them for a workout before race day. If they’re dirty, I gather up any other workout clothes that need washing and get a load going. I also check my stash of race nutrition and make sure I have Chocolate Gu, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Luna Bars, and plenty of sports drink. If anything needs to be replenished, I head to the store.
This is also when my diet becomes pretty bland and basic. Because of my ulcerative colitis, I am extra careful to stick to foods that I know have absolutely no history of upsetting my GI tract. No sense getting myself sick before a race!
Two Days Before
Two days before a race, I visit the race website. I check for any last-minute instructions, re-read race guides, and get the address of the starting location. I visit Google Maps and print out directions to and from the website. (I like to have printed directions in addition to my GPS.) If it’s a big race, like the Chicago Marathon, I also print out spectator maps and guides for any friends and family that I have attending. I pack all of these things in a special pocket of my race-day bag.
The Day Before
The day before a race, I walk through the entire race in my mind. I think about all of the things I will do, and all the equipment I will need to do them to the best of my ability. I make a list of all the gear I need to pack. Then, I lay out all of my gear, including nutrition, and double-check against my list. I also run through the race in my mind again, checking that all the gear I need is sitting out.
I go through any race materials I already have (if there was a pre-race packet pickup.) If possible, I attach my race number to my shirt or tri skirt, bike, and helmet now. Anything I don’t have to think about in the morning is a good thing.
When I’m sure I have everything, I pack it all into my race bag (or bags!)
Anything I will wear to the race gets left out of the bag and placed in the hallway right next to my room. (I have no idea why I don’t put it in my room, but old habits die hard!)
I fill up my water bottles and mix my sports drink, then put them in the fridge. Although I’ve never forgotten them, I almost always write a big note that says, “WATER BOTTLES IN FRIDGE” and put it next to my gear bag.
If it’s an especially important or difficult race, Goose usually has signs and a shirt. I lay these out next to my gear, too.
Once everything is laid out, I relax. If it’s a running race, this usually involves making a tiara to wear in honor of Girls on the Run.
I put my feet up, eat some pasta with chicken and broccoli, and drink lots of water. I do one last weather check to make sure the gear I laid out is appropriate for the weather. Then, I usually climb in bed really early with a movie. For some reason, I am drawn to things like High School Musical and The Lizzie McGuire Movie before a race. I suppose it’s because they are movies I don’t mind missing and can easily fall asleep during.
I hate to wake up early, so I only set my alarm about 25 minutes before I need to leave the house. I snooze for 10 minutes, then brush my teeth and hop into the race gear I laid out the night before. I get my water bottles out of the fridge, grab my race bags, and pick up my pre-race breakfast to eat in the car. In just 15 minutes, I’m out the door and ready for a great race!
What kinds of pre-race rituals do you have? Are they different depending on the type of race you’re doing?