Gale Bernhardt shares tips and tricks for the perfect pre-race week!
Have you ever thought of doing an endurance race? Have you seen your friends posting pictures on Facebook of their first 5K, half marathon, marathon, or triathlon? The idea of doing a race may have once seemed bogus or daunting, but these days more people are signing up to try one out. In 2012, 550,000 people registered for a membership with USA Triathlon while a decade ago membership hovered near 100,000 participants. Female membership has grown 10 percent over the last decade!
Once you've chosen a race, signed up, and started training, race week seems to creep up way too fast. Athletes who've done dozens of races and newbie racers typically go through the same "pre-race week" freak out. To set your mind at ease, we've enlisted the help of Gale Bernhardt, an elite and Olympic triathlon coach and training expert for Aquaphor's New York City Triathlon, to answer a couple of your pre-race week questions
What nutrition tips should I keep in mind?
Be aware of nervous habits. Some athletes eat more when they are nervous; others forget to eat - literally. During the week before the race, try to maintain normal foods and normal eating times each day. Volume of food and fluids will be less because less training is being done, but this is no time to diet. Like the three bears: not too little, not too much, but just right.
How should I mentally prepare for my race?
In workouts I like to have athletes prepare for race day, practicing physically and mentally the challenges of the race. Many workouts have been dress rehearsal for race day. Make a list of your worries for the race and then brainstorm solutions for each. For example, "My goggles might get water in them." I ask the athlete to tell me what they would do to solve this problem if it occurs. a) tread water and empty the goggles, b) swim to a boat, hold on and empty the goggles, c) give up and stop the race. The more options people feel that they have, the more likely they can solve problems and continue.
How should I organize my race bag?
Make a list.
What are a couple must-have items to pack in your race bag?
Lip-balm size of Aquaphor to use on lips or carry on the run to use on "hot spots" to prevent them from becoming blisters. This small tube can be slipped into the waist of shorts. Also, post-race clothes to hang out at the festivities. Write your name and/or phone number on any items you'd like to have returned to you if they get misplaced.
Are there any items that I should bring to my race that I might forget?
Bring a small first aid kit that includes a topical spray that is a wound cleanser, pain reliever, and germ killer. Also include a few band-aids of various sizes, a hand towel, and camper soap to clean up after the race, or the commercially available athletic wipe towelettes.
Should I check out the course map ahead of time?
Whenever possible, I like to have athletes train on the course ahead of time. When that's not possible, driving the course the day or two before the race works too. There is comfort in knowing what to expect.
Any tips or tricks I should add to my "Week Before My Race" guidebook?
Avoid negative people or worry warts. Keep a positive attitude about your race and your day. If you do the best you can at each moment during the race, there are no apologies to be made to anyone - including yourself.