Essential race week tasks

In the final days before your goal event, it can be easy to get caught up in reverie. You reflect on what went right and wrong during your training. You worry and dream about what the weather and the competitive field will be like on race day.

Taking the time to do these five tasks can help make or break your event. They will help reduce your stress and set you up for success.

1. Make your mantra. Make it meaningful. Make it personal. Keep it short. Write it down. A mantra is a short motivating phrase that you can lean on when you need inspiration, a boost, or why to keep pushing when the going gets tough. As your effort level increases throughout the course of the race, it’s inevitable that doubt, worry, fear, and the urge to give up are going to blow into your brain. A mantra will help you beat down those negative thoughts, and give you the mental fuel and energy to keep going.

2. Write down your nutrition plan. It may seem frivolous, and you may think that you know it by heart, but what and when you eat and drink before and during the race can have a huge impact on how fast and strong you feel on the road. Shop for the food and fluids you’ll need as early as possible in the week. Start with the day before the race. Plan out the carb-based meals you’ll eat throughout the day. Write down the time you plan to eat. You won’t have to spend precious energy worrying about what and when you’ll eat. You can just cross each meal, snack, and drink off the list. Include in this your fueling plan for when you’re on the road. Reflect on your training. During your long runs, how often did you refuel? What gels and drinks gave you a boost without upsetting your stomach? Look at the race web site and review the locations of the mile markers so you know where you’ll have an opportunity to rehydrate with fluids. Remember: if you have a sports gel, it’s best to chase it with water, not sports drink, which could overload your gut and lead to GI distress.

3. Map out your logistics and schedule. It may sound frivolous, but taking the time to write down when you’ll leave the house on race day, where you’ll park, and where you’ll meet family and friends after the race will take a huge amount of stress off you on race day. Be sure you have alarms and back-up alarms set for wake-up on race day!

4. Thank your supporters. It would be infinitely more difficult to prepare for a big half-marathon or marathon without the support of your family, friends, coworkers, and running buddies. Take the time to write them a note - and send it in the U.S. mail - to thank them for their support and to tell them what a huge impact it had on you. It will mean a lot to them, and will make it all the more likely that they’ll continue to give you that support in the future.

5. Plan a post-race reward. Whether you run the race of your life, or have a disappointing finish time, a little post-race letdown is pretty inevitable, especially when you’ve devoted weeks and months of your life toward the goal. Think about some fun event, meal, or outing that you can take in the week after the race to celebrate and savor your big accomplishment. You might also put a shorter race like a 5-K or 10-K that you do for fun on the calendar.

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