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PRE-RACE RITUALS…..YEP I HAVE A COUPLE

June 13, 2013

Preparation always is a key element to success in any walk of life, and preparing for running events such as Sunday’s City2South in Brisbane is no different. Every person is different, some may copy online routines prepared by experts with slight alterations if any, others have their own little rituals that they feel are needed to be performed before they feel comfort at the start line. Of course there are also a slight minority who simply turn up, come, see, conquer and depart as if it’s another day earning a quid in a dead end job.

I don’t profess to be an expert, particularly as I don’t possess certified qualifications that many others have. But that won’t stop me from sharing with the world how I choose to prepare for an event. Keep in mind that whilst what I’m sharing won’t be suitable for everyone and almost always will never run according to script (the race day preparation for Run For A Reason in Perth is testament to this belief), what I’m divulging is the way I would like to get myself ready for the big upcoming event.

 

RACE WEEK

I like to make sure that I have a couple of training runs that are near or sometimes exceeding the race distance. What this provides me is the comfort in my mind that completing the distance won’t be a problem unless there is a physical ailment on race day. It also ensures that I can put up with the pain in the legs that would often follow the event, something that post race massage may also help with.

Any training run for me is concluded at least 48 hours before race day. To me it’s pointless wasting energy going for a light jog on race eve when an easy stroll is sufficient. On race eve, I try to make sure that I order a pizza for race eve dinner. Others have personal preferences for the last big meal before a big event, but this ritual has also served me well as a match day eve meal for football as well for the last 5 years so why change a winning formula? It does pay to research online to seek which pizza outlets are near where you are staying as well, this can be incorporated into the pre-event stroll.

Usually for me getting to events means at least one plane trip the day before an event. Personally I’m used to travelling through airports and getting the window seat for me is a key for easy sleeping, but again this may not be for everyone. I like to have any travel and accommodation plans made well in advance (at least a month out). I make sure I also pack excessive gear in case of weather, I prefer long sleeved Skins but others may use a tracksuit or older jumper.

 

PRE-RACE MORNING

Most events in Australia are conducted on Sunday Mornings, with start times ranging from 7-10 AM. It does help that in my field of employment I am often required to rise early on a Sunday morning for a 6AM start to the work day, so for me early wake up times are not uncommon. It may be harder for others who may only consider rising early on a Sunday once or twice a year, so setting as many alarms as possible is an idea to consider. Even the old fashioned wake up call to the motel phone can play a role. I have alarms on my phone that are staggered to sound at 20 minute intervals.

This Sunday’s event starts at 7AM, so for me it’s important to get to the start line anywhere between 2 hours and 90 minutes before the scheduled start. I always wear my race gear as a bottom layer of sorts, with a shirt or jumper covering up the top section. For most events, this can be included in your baggage that I tend to drop off about an hour or so before the start. The only change to this would be for the Bridge2Brisbane who don’t have a baggage service so for that event I make sure my running shorts have pockets and use extra pins (a cheap $5 investment in a pack from Officeworks or a newsagent will give you plenty) to help secure both items within the pocket and the pocket itself, it can be annoying to run with a phone and a wallet slapping your thigh or lower quad every second step! I also apply a copious amount of white zinc cream across the nose, just to help with being sun smart. I also run with a cap (often worn backwards during the run itself) and sunglasses to protect the eyes. The sunnies don’t have to be the most expensive pair from a specialist outlet, I often purchase a $20 pair from either a service station or even the Airport  which often do the same job.

I like to walk to the start line wherever possible with the iPod blaring in the ears to either your music or the local radio station which is usually breakfast show free on a Sunday. The only stop I make en route to the start area would be to a convenience store or service station to purchase 2 bottles of GATORADE as opposed to Powerade. One bottle is usually consumed before the event and doubles as the only fuel I take on board before the race (apart from a slug of water should that be available). Again this comes from a football background, where in my experiences my performances have been below sub-par if I consume any solid food within a certain time before the start, which is usually 5 hours. The other of course is consumed once the event is completed, as refuelling after an event to me is more important than topping up before the race.

Once I get to the start area I try to find a little space for myself, perhaps wonder about the start area and make sure I make a toilet stop. A repeat of Russell Packer’s efforts at Lang Park a couple of Monday Nights ago in events on the road is a massive no-no (for those that don’t know, Packer decided to “let it flow” in view of the cameras moments before kickoff on the playing surface before a Monday Night NRL match recently).  During this time I also like to chill by reading and sending the odd tweet, and even make a video facebook post despite the dismal quality provided by the camera built into the phone. At least the world then knows I’m feeling alright before the business starts.

With about 1 hour to go before the start I commence a stretching routine, focusing on leg muscle stretching to start with. For each leg a certain part is stretched for 15 seconds before changing to the opposite leg, then the process is repeated. The parts I almost always stretch are….

  • Groins (shake between 15 second repetitions)
  • Hamstrings
  • Ankles (15 rotations clockwise, 15 rotations anti-clockwise)
  • Calves
  • Achilles (same as calf stretch except back leg is slightly bent to focus on area)
  • Quad/Thigh
  • Glutes (Butt muscle)
  • Hip (both sitting and standing stretch)
  • Lower Back
  • Side
  • Shoulders (you’d be surprised how much the shoulders hurt when putting in the effort)
  • Neck

Following the static stretch which takes not much longer than 10 minutes, I then commence a dynamic style warm-up to loosen the legs. All I need is an area where there is a landmark of sorts such as a wheelie bin or post to stop. After repeating each step about 3 times, I tend to do some short runs increasing the pace till about the 10th repetition. I also like to incorporate some side stepping into the short sharp sprint work given that such movements are needed to advance through the slower traffic.

The iPod’s music is turned off with about 25 minutes remaining, and with the baggage already in storage I wrap the earphones around the armband and engage the Nike+ Running App (I own a Nano), which I use as a personal watch of sorts during the run. I like to stake out a spot in the start area with about 15 minutes to go before the start, often shaking the legs out during this time. Personally I try to start towards the middle of the road in the middle of the group. There will be enough slower runners ahead to pass early enough on the route (they usually only go towards the front for the “hey mum I’m on TV” moment), and with the chip in your bib not being activated until the start line there’s no need to imitate Usain Bolt and sprint over the line. All that’s needed is a nice steady walk until about 50 metres before the line before trotting over the line to commence the run.

 

However you prepare, my tip to you is to try to stick to a routine which YOU feel comfortable with, and to always be flexible for the unexpected. Also remember that feeling nervous is more than acceptable, the very best in the world often feel the nerves. So long as you enjoy yourself and are confident in what you do, then everything will work out fine.

 

SEE YOU AT THE START OR FINISH LINE ON SUNDAY!

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