How 3 Run and Become staffers get ready mentally and practically for race day, with some Every-Race-Day traditions that help them feel super confident and relaxed before the big day.
For me the race begins not on the start line, but a day before in my head. I’m an ultra-runner, so having mental and practical routines before a long-distance event is really important for me.
If possible I take a day off from work before the race, simply because I want to rest and get prepared. Also I usually need to travel to the start line outside of London a day before, or wake up around 3am to get to the start line on time.
No matter what gear you choose, make sure that absolutely everything you’re going to use has been tested before. You should be 100% confident with every single piece of gear. You don’t want to stress and risk the fact that something is not going to work as you hoped.
For all my events I use the Salomon Advanced Skin 12 vest. It’s absolutely incredible how much kit you can fit in. Usually I need to have lots of gear with me – waterproof jacket and trousers, head torch, long sleeve top, first aid kit, gloves, hat, food and water. I prepare the whole vest (without water) a day before.
If you’re looking for a good headtorch to run overnight, check our latest choice Ledlenser's NEO10R. Trust me, you’re not going to fall asleep with 600 lumens in front of you.
I can’t go without my favourite GU Gels and Margarita Citrus Clif Bloks.
A very important part of my routine is relaxation the evening before. We’re all so excited the night before a race that usually we can’t fall asleep easily. That’s tricky especially if you’ll be running overnight – it means that you’re going to be 2 nights without sleep. Not recommended. Relaxation could be a long bath, reading a favourite (or the most boring...) book, a home spa or a cup of herbal tea. It can help to switch off any computers or devices 1-2 hrs before sleep.
But what works for me the most is meditation, which I discovered a few years ago. I can’t imagine not just racing, but living without having that daily time of silence to get in sync with myself. With meditation I am calm and focused, I’ve got clarity, and I am ready to perform at my best, giving 100% of myself at the race. There are a lot of different meditation techniques, and you can find few books in our store as well – 222 Meditation Techniques or Sport and Meditation.
As I like a variety of distances half marathon and longer (my longest so far was 24 hours) obviously my preparation will vary depending how far I am going, but in essence it stays the same.
I always check and recheck(!) the weather forecast for the day of the event and choose my favourite, most comfy kit for those weather conditions. I do always try to get everything out the day before the race to avoid any last minute panics.
In the week before a race I make sure I am well hydrated, I either put in a tablet of Nuun or some drops of Elite in my bottle for 3 or 4 days before the race. This helps to make sure I will be well hydrated on the actual day.
I also make sure I have tried and tested all the nutrition before race day and that I have what I need at home and not still at Run and Become! My new gel of choice at the moment is Maurten Gel and if I am doing anything more than a marathon I like to eat food for roughly the first half of the race – I have found the Mace bars absolutely brilliant for this.
When it comes to mental preparation, I have found for me this really goes hand in hand with my training. If I have felt good on my long runs, found a rhythm and in that rhythm found an inner joy, then I know I will enjoy the race. Looking back, my race experiences have almost always been a direct correlation to how I have enjoyed my training. So now, especially on a longer training, I try to go somewhere beautiful or to explore somewhere I haven't been before.
Natural Gait Analysis Expert
I specialise in sprint distance triathlons, which comprise of a 750m swim, 20km bike ride and a 5km run. I compete in races across the UK and I'm also excited to be competing in Switzerland at the age group world champs this year.
In preparation for each race I come up with a race plan, checking out the course and talking though how I plan to deal with each section. For example, I will drive or cycle the bike course to get an idea of gears I will use. I will also have a short swim and make sure I know the land marks to sight around the course. Having a race plan helps me relax before the race and keeps me focused during it.
On race day I try to have breakfast two hours before the start of the race. I keep it simple and stick to what I'm used to eating. For me, a sprint triathlon lasts just over an hour, so I don't really need to take on anything during the race, but I often have a Torq energy gel and 250 ml of water on my bike in case I feel like a bit of a boost. I also like having a Clif protein bar on hand for after the race to help with recovery.
At the start of each season I come up with a check list of gear I need for competitions. For triathlons you need so much gear on race day that it is easy to forget something without this list. Often competitions are early in the morning, so I pack the night before.