5 Tips The Day Before A Winter Race
We all know that it takes some focused preparation to get ready for running a race. There are a lot of small details to consider. It can be challenging not to forget something seemingly tiny… that could cause a big problem when it comes to race time. (Bodyglide, we’re looking at you!)
We don’t often race in the winter, so this may require us to think extra hard about how we will get ourselves ready for running a winter race. We’ve put together some winter-specific race prep tips, to make sure you can relax, knowing you’d checked all the boxes.
Here are the key things you want to do the day before a winter race to put you in the best shape for making that PB happen!
1. Prepare your race kit early
Oops, your favourite pair of winter race tights are dirty! This is not something you want to discover at 11pm the night before the race. Start setting out your gear in the morning in a special pile where you can see it all laid out. Essential running gear to to include:
- Running Tights
- Sweat-wicking Socks
- Running Shoes
- Long sleeve running top
- Running shell or jacket
- Race bib and pins
These items are key but may need to be “throw-away” grade depending on the weather:
- Mid-layer if appropriate for temperature*
These items are optional:
- Hydration for pre-race
Also set out BESIDE your race kit:
- Lip chap
- Hair elastics
2. Check the weather
Just because it is winter, doesn’t mean you have to dress to run in the most freezing temperatures. The following factors will change how you prepare and what you wear:
- Precipitation during the race – If it rains, make sure you have a protective shell! Brimmed hats are key to prevent snow in the eyes. Goggles might even be warranted for extreme conditions.
- Road conditions – Is it icy, bare, snowy? Just because you have been training in your grippy winter shoes a lot, doesn’t mean that they are be the perfect ones for the race. If the race is in another city, you might have to check what the road surfaces are like, or bring a few different pairs of shoes to decide when you see the course in the morning.
- Sun – Sometimes we forget sunglasses in the winter, but they are super important, as sun glancing off of white snow can be especially blinding.
- Air temperature – This will affect your layer scheme. Dress warmer than usual to account for pre-race chills, and prepare to strip a layer if necessary.
3. Manage your energy
Focus on resting and keeping your mind calm and happy today. Go for short walks, play easy games with family and friends, meet someone for coffee, do some light household chores, read a book, take a nap, do a craft, call your folks, play with your pets, watch a comedy special.
Don’t spend all day walking around the mall. Don’t do your taxes. Don’t engage in a 6-hour long Risk marathon. It is important to keep your mind occupied, but focus on conserving your mental and physical bandwidth. We sometimes don’t realize how non-exercise activities can cause us small amounts of stress. On a normal day, this is good for us. But you want to be as rested as possible today.
If you find yourself feeling anxious or fearful about the race, take a moment to stop and visualize your morning routine, and how prepared you will feel at the start line. Visualize yourself running strong, feeling effortless, and confident!
4. Eat and Hydrate
So much can be said about nutrition, and we are not registered dietitians. Everyone’s diet will be different. Seek a professional if you have specific needs. However, here are some safe and general tips:
- Eat throughout the day – avoid any one HUGE meal.
- Focus on carbs, less on fats.
- Eat the same amount of fibre as you usually do, or slightly less.
- Drink a lot of water, but not too much before bed time – you want to make sure you have an uninterrupted sleep.
- Eat foods that you are familiar with and that you like! Foods that make your body feel good and energized.
Don’t forget to plan or prep your pre-race meal as well. This will differ for everyone, but you should be focusing on friendly carbs.
If you’d like me, you may find it hard to sleep before a race. Try to get to bed early. Put down the screens an hour at least before your bed time. Set multiple alarms. Do what it takes for you to feel your most comfortable.
While we are all aware that chronic under-sleeping compromises our recovery and makes performance sub-optimal, don’t worry about that today. If you do have a bad sleep the night before a race, it won’t ruin your chance at a PR. According to RunnersConnect, a bad sleep the night before might make your effort feel a little harder, but it won’t drastically curtail your ability to perform. That’s a relief!
We hope you found these tips helpful, and good luck at all of your wintery races!