You must adjust your training, leisure time, and nutrition to prepare your body for a big race. Contrary to popular opinion, the last thing to do is overexert yourself right before the race day. The goal is to be both physically and thus mentally prepared. Only then can you put all your efforts and have a performance of the year!
Keep your training at a moderate pace
If your training leaves you physically exhausted a week before your race, chances are your body won't cooperate on a big day. Instead, sit with your coach and design a pre-race training. Focus on quality of it over quantity. That means, better to do fewer exercises with full strength instead perform dozens of them with less commitment.
You will prepare your body for a big race if you don’t exhaust yourself during training.
Remember to do post-workout ice baths for quicker and more effective muscle recovery. Now is the chance to discover the benefits of ice baths if you've been avoiding them for a while:
- Increased alertness and blood flow.
- Improved mood.
- Energy boost.
Stay focused on your goal
Like every athlete, you must keep your eye on the goal before a competition. If it's not the medal, then it's your personal record. The latter is what actually makes you a better athlete and gives you a sense of confidence. Feel free to speak with your coach and go over the entire strategy once again.
Stretching will loosen up your muscles and make you more agile. Whether you prefer classical stretching exercises or yoga is entirely up to you. About 20-30min of morning stretch will be enough to prepare you for the rest of the day. Also, remember to stretch after every exercise.
Healthy carbs will prepare your body for a big race
Your muscles will be under lots of stress and pressure, and that's why you should re-think your nutrition. Proteins have built your muscles; however, it's time to let loose with (healthy) carbs. Carbs will boost your energy levels and prep your muscles for the race. That way, your body will have more fuel to spend. This is especially important if you're, for example, a marathon swimmer (runner, etc.). The general agreement on carb increase before the race is 30% to 50%. Nevertheless, make sure to consult with your nutritionist for the best results. Also, stick to carb-rich food other than baked and sweet potatoes.
Up your Magnesium levels
You can benefit from regular magnesium supplementation since it benefits your body in multiple ways:
- Magnesium relaxes your muscles and prevents cramping.
- Your blood flow gets better.
- Headaches and dizziness are things of the past.
- Keeps metabolic processes in check.
- Calms your mind and lowers stress levels.
Don’t forget to hydrate
Stress and excitement often make us forget to sleep and hydrate. Fortunately, many free apps help you track water intake in a very interactive way. All you have to do is choose the one with the interface you like the most, and you're good to go. Reminding yourself to drink water is something you'll have to get used to. Water is necessary to keep your bodily functions in the best way possible. Plus, hydration and endurance go hand in hand, so better set the reminder/alarm on and keep your water bottle close.
Make sure to stay hydrated.
Meditate to calm your mind and body
One of the best ways to prepare your body for a big race is learning how to relax and recover from the stress of training. It's not necessary to sit like a monk in the Himalayas and meditate from dusk till dawn. All you have to do is sit in a quiet spot, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. If you like, you can play some calming meditation music. Once you calm your mind, try to visualize your race. Imagine it like it's really happening. These mental simulations allow your body to better prepare for the upcoming race and everything that comes with it.
Lay low with caffeine
Although caffeine acts as an energy boost, it may hinder your shape. Too much caffeine increases stress and anxiety and disrupts sleep. If you tend to start your day with coffee, swap it with herbal tea. It's important not to let your body get used to energy-boost shortcuts, especially before the race.
Good sleep matters a lot
Without a good sleep session, your metabolic functions and overall physical form are likely to be compromised. Therefore, do your best to remain well-rested until the very race day. Commit to going to bed same time every night. Avoid checking your phone or watching videos, and reduce all kinds of distractions. Your body will be thankful.
Visit your doctor before the race
When preparing for the upcoming race, make sure not to leave anything to chance. Your health and well-being are of utmost importance. That's why the last doctor's appointment before the race is more than welcome. Moreover, you'll be at ease once you have a written statement that your body is fully ready.
Tips for the race day
It also matters what you do on the day of your race:
- Get up early. Have at least 30min to chill and take your mind off the race.
- Have a nice stretch session.
- Have the breakfast you usually eat on your training days.
- Drink enough water.
- Avoid experimenting with anything new on your big day - food, exercises, etc.
- Prepare your favorite playlist that calms you down when you feel nervous.
- Remind yourself about your goals and avoid distractions like social media content..
Avoid transporting heavy equipment shortly before the big race
Most athletes need to travel to compete in regional and national races. Sometimes they are required to bring bulky and heavy equipment with them. Although moving to a different town before your race day might seem stressful, you can get help when transporting your possessions, gear, and equipment. Instead of handling the move all by yourself, it's best to find expert assistance. Let professional movers do the heavy lifting since that will save you time and energy and help you stay focused on your competition.
Hire skilled movers so you don’t have to stress about your possessions while preparing for the race.
With patience and commitment, you will prepare your body for a big race and remain focused the entire time. Just make sure to stick with a plan and do what's best for your body and mind. Train moderately, rest well, supplement, hydrate, and - good luck!