What to do in the days leading up to a race?

The hardest part of training for a race of any distance is not the long miles, the intense training days, or the moments when you are pushing the upper limits of speed and endurance. It’s the days leading up to the big race when you’ve put all that effort into the bank and you’re sitting on a pile of energy, and the most important thing you can do for yourself is rest. Good luck with that!

I don’t have an answer. Right now I have major writing projects in front of me with pressing due dates, and technology clients with fire after fire needing help. I have a race on Sunday, I’ve had two migraines back to back, and the most important thing I can do right now is relax? Yeah, right!

Everything I read talks about training as if it exists in a vacuum, paying the tiniest lip service to the population with lives. But if you read the pro’s blogs you’ll see that even many of them have regular day jobs because the pro circuit doesn’t pay everyone enough money to live on comfortably. Sure, it might offset the cost of the sport with a bike, clothing, and accessories, but I think a vast majority of the people in triathlon – pro or age grouper – have normal lives that dictate much of our schedules. Which means the week leading up to a race, when we’re supposed to be tapering down the volume of training while stuffing our faces with carbs at every meal, doesn’t mean that the rest of our world shuts down to accommodate the race. Let me be clear – if you get a slot at Kona, the World Championship Ironman race at the end of the season – you better adjust your entire world around that race. Take the vacation time, dump any commitments, and hie thee to Hawaii. But for the other races, and there are many of them, we’re stuck doing the juggling act.

Which for me means putting out my client’s fires, trying to shut out the construction noise on my street and in my apartment building so I can get a little writing done, and constantly reminding myself that the training has been done. Now is the time to race, which includes these days of quiet insanity leading up to the race. Today I did three simple laps on the ocean speed circuit, done in 38 minutes. I forgot my towel so I changed into my run gear and went for a quick run, limiting myself to 15 minutes. This was hard, turning around early when I had more gas in the tank. But I have a race on Sunday, and I want to keep teasing myself with little sessions so that I can explode out of the gate on race day.

That means eating. Sleeping. Moving just a little bit. 

And naps. Yay naps.


One response to “What to do in the days leading up to a race?

  1. It’s important to go easy before big days. Every pro in every sport does that. Just get everything together and keep your mind in it–visualizing what you’re gonna do–the physical training will come through.

    Sorry about the migraines…

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