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The first race of 2014 for me has finally arrived and I am really looking forward to it. Although I’m not expecting to get a PB during the Hypothermic Half, if the conditions are clear, I’ll be able to compare it to last year’s time on the same course. It should also be a good gauge of how my first six weeks of marathon training have been working.

I really enjoy the half marathon distance and regularly run right around the 20-25 km mark for my long runs (although that will start to build up soon as the full gets closer). It’s not an overwhelming distance and gives you a good chance to get settled into a groove. The Hypothermic Half is a nice social event too (it starts and finishes at a Molson plant – how Canadian!!) and the post-race brunch was also awesome last year.

Given how happy I was with my first marathon in October as well as the last half I raced in September, I right succumb to my more superstitious side and keep the same pre-race routine as those two races. The ritual athlete in me I blame completely on my years of playing hockey, particularly the last few seasons where I was a goaltender. Supposedly, goalies are among the quirkiest and routine based of any athletes and in my experience, I can’t say that cliché is far off the mark.

Generally speaking, I try to stay hydrated as best as I can, but leading up to a race I always make sure I am getting enough water. I will constantly carry a water bottle with me and refill it whenever it crosses my mind. By 9 pm on Friday and Saturday (for a Sunday race) I will stop drinking water because I don’t want to have to go back and forth to the bathroom all night.

I have been lucky enough to have decent sleep leading up to my last couple of races, but I still make a habit of going to bed a little earlier in the days leading up to race day. I try to be in bed by 10, asleep by 10:30 at least two or three nights before the race and each following night as well. I have noticed that since bumping up my racing and training distances, I rarely take long to fall asleep regardless of when I turn in.

Food wise, I don’t really change my eating habits very much. I’m too worried about stomach issues to introduce something even a little different to my routine, let alone try something radical. Friday evening will be pizza night, usually Hawaiian – but no extras like garlic fingers and certainly no pop. Saturday, I’ll try and have my usual breakfast of fruit, yogurt and cereal and then make sure I have a good protein based lunch, like a chicken breast. Snacks will also be either cheese, fruit or nuts.

I do “carbo load” the evening before, although this seems to be a throwback to my younger running days. There is a lot of literature out there now that debates the merits of the pasta meal (or whatever) the night before a big race. I try and have my supper by 5 pm and I don’t overdo it. I want to feel full, not slip into a past induced coma.

Before I head to bed, I get my clothes and my gear bag ready. I will lay out everything from my socks and shoes to gloves and headwear and everything in between. For races where I will get wet or cold, a change of clothes and another pair of shoes are a must.  With longer races, I get my hydration belt ready, including a couple of gels in one of the pockets. I even fill my bottles, usually with a combination of water and watered down sports drinks. I make sure my Garmin is charged, set two alarms for three hours before the race and hit the sack.

So what do you think? Too OCD? Am I eating wrong? Is there something I’m missing or does it seem to make sense? I’d love to get your thoughts on my weekend routines! And please check back tomorrow for what my race morning prep and pre-race routine write-up!

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