Race day is quickly approaching and before you know it, you’ll be just a few days out. Are you ready?

At EPIC, we’ve trained athletes at the elite level for marathons, triathlons, Iron Mans- you name it.

To be high-performing, there are some techniques we deem as non-negotiable.

This is how anyone, professional or not, should be prepping for a race to get the most out of their body. Overcoming tight or sore muscles isn’t even the half of it. Preparation needs to be physical, bio-chemical AND mental if you’re looking to achieve optimal results. Take a page out of our book (or blog, as it were) with these tips to have your best race to date!



Hydration

It’s incredibly important to manage hydration. But this doesn’t mean chugging water until you’re about to burst.

Just because you’re drinking lots of water doesn’t mean your body is able to use it all.

The key is to help your body actually absorb the fluids that you’re putting in it. One approach is to add a little Himalayan sea salt to your diet. This may sound counter-intuitive (doesn’t salt make you thirsty?) but in reality, salt helps your body retain water. About a week before your race, up your salt intake. Sprinkle it on salads, sweet potato, avocados, etc. and all this retained water will help your muscles and tissues. About three days before the race, however, you should bring your salt intake back down because you don’t want that extra water weight in the body when you are competing. Just make sure it’s the pink stuff, no table salt!



Electrolytes

Hand-in-hand with hydration, we need electrolytes. Electrolytes help to keep your body properly hydrated and help us produce energy. Two days before your race, you need to make sure you’re taking in naturopathic-grade level electrolytes (one of our favourites is Endura) since low-quality substitutes like Gatorade or Powerade are only going to cause digestive distress.

You want to make sure that whatever supp you’re using doesn’t have a paragraph-worth of ingredients.

You’re looking for electrolytes like magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and calcium but not much more than that. Trust me, you’re going to want to have a high-functioning digestive system going into the race.



Visualization

I’d argue that this should be happening all the time BUT at the very least, two days before your race, it’s important to engage in some visualization. It’s a really great idea to drive along your race route before you run it so you can make mental notes of touchpoints and recognize where you’ll have to dig deep, where you’ll be able to slow down a bit and focus on breathing, etc. It’s important to get a look at the route before the race so you’ll have a better understanding of where you’re at throughout the actual race. This, of course, will help you visualize- which is part of your training!

Visualization will help you to feel confident and strong and pace things out properly in your head before tackling the trail.

Where will you need to push through a hill? Where can you catch your breath? How will you feel? Prepping in your mind, body, and spirit before the actual race is incredibly powerful.



Foam Rolling + Rest

Again, this is a habit that is good to get into ALL. THE. TIME. But it’s especially important in the days leading up to your race. It’s going to be important to loosen up the IT band, the glutes, the upper back, the hips, and any problem areas you’re used to having. Use your foam roller to iron out the tissues and joints that might tighten up, shortening your stride or causing any kind of discomfort during your race.

What you do NOT want to do is overdo it. Two days before the race is not the time to push yourself to a new PB. Extra time in the gym or on the track is not going to help your joints loosen up but it will increase your risk of injury. I don’t recommend going beyond a 50% intensity level in the two days leading up to your race. Go for a jog but keep it light, do some strength training but only at 50% of your max. There’s no need to push yourself in this time. It’ll likely cause more harm than help.



Nutrition

In terms of nutrition, you should be doubling up on carbs for the lunch and dinner of the day before your race. If you start increasing your carb intake before that your body will just be storing it in the liver where it cannot be easily used. Waiting until one day before the race means that these complex carbs will be fresh in your bloodstream and ready to convert into energy.



Rituals

Leading up to the race, it’s important to have a plan in place. A couple of days before, pick out your outfit- nothing flashy or new because they can chafe or cause discomfort, choose something you’ve run in before. Make sure your phone is charged and your running playlists are ready to go. You want to be in as calm a place as possible mentally so setting yourself up for a stress-free morning the day of is critical.

Again, the day of the race, visualization is key. Start from the moment you wake up, visualize yourself eating breakfast, getting ready, getting in the car, warming up, aaaall the way down to the end of the race and how you’re going to feel. Then, it’s time to execute.

Going about your regular routine and keeping your rituals in place is important since you don’t want to add extra stress on the body. This isn’t the time to try a new breakfast or coffee. This isn’t the time to break in new shoes. This isn’t the time to try running to podcasts instead of playlists. You need to keep things as normal as possible to ensure they are as easy as possible.


This is how the pros do it. They make sure that game day is as effective as their practice days by employing these techniques. Not only will your body be in tip-top shape but you’ll be mentally and spiritually prepared to perform your best.



Have a an epic race weekend!


To set yourself up for success in all of your races, request a free Functional Runners Assessment. We have created this assessment as a 360° tool to help Ottawa runners not only avoid injury but learn more about how they move and what they can do to improve their running and beat their personal bests.