In my last article, I gave suggestions regarding things all athletes should do prior to an endurance race. There was great feedback from athletes, but they also wanted to know what they shouldn’t do before a race.
Don’t Try Anything New
While some athletes actually say don’t try anything new, I completely agree, but I always think that you end up trying something new anyway. But really don’t try something new at a big race. If what you were planning doesn’t go as planned, it can derail your mind and screw up the entire day. And this is all because you should have known better to not try something new on race day.
Don’t Go to A Race With No Plan
Racing plans have a purpose, just like new parents have a birthing plan. It’s a schedule of exactly how you want the day to go. A good racing plan has contingencies included regarding problems that may or may not occur on the event day.
If the plan is written down, you can continually rehearse and refine it so you know it by memory. We do this in the military by having a briefing before a mission so that everyone is on the same page. A coach should help develop your plan, but you should never go to a race without one. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for failure
Don’t Train Too Much
Don’t give in to the voices telling you to get in more training the week of your race because you don’t feel ready. I have to constantly remind my athletes to stay relaxed and convince them that the training has been accomplished and it will all play out on race day. It’s not that they aren’t actually ready, but they feel unready usually due to their friends or training partners continuing to train hard before the same or different race.
An athlete can be his or her own worst enemy, and doing tough workouts the week of your big race can completely ruin everything you have worked for. Tapering is a challenge for most athletes, so you’re not alone. But knowing you should try to focus on not training too much the week of your race is key. I constantly tell my athletes that it is better to be 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained. You can make up that 10% on race day, but once you are overtrained, it takes time to recover back to your normal self.
Don’t Think You Can Race Well Without Warming Up
Some athletes think they can just show up and do well. Wrong. You need to warm up if you expect to do well. I realize you may not be able to swim prior to your race, but bringing stretch cords is a way to mimic the swimming motion. If you feel that you don’t have time, doing some dynamic stretches ahead of time is a great and quick to get the blood moving.
Getting your muscles ready for race day can help get you great results. That means warming up when you are running anything from a 5km to a marathon-distance race. Your marathon warm up may not be long, but it’s better than feeling stiff, slow, and sluggish when you start. If you don’t warm up for your race, then you can expect crappy results.
You may be having of the worst days of your athletic career, but if you aren’t being carried off on a stretcher or your bike isn’t completely broken in half, there isn’t any real reason to quit a race early. Even for you professional athletes, all endurance events should be finished even if you have to walk to the finish.
You’d be surprised what you can learn about yourself, about others, and more when you take a different perspective on a day that you just want to quit. I am guilty of this and it wouldn’t be right of me if I didn’t say that I haven’t quit, because I have. At the event in question, I was sick with food poisoning and made it through the swim and bike, but I was just three miles into the run when I quit. Looking back I regret that decision. I wish I had stuck it out and to this day I still think about it.
So don’t just quit unless you have some serious reason as to why you can’t continue. It’s the tough days at your race that will help define your character and motivate you in the future to push through the temporary pain.
These are my essentials to not do prior to your race, but this can’t be an all-encompassing list, so I challenge you, the reader. I want you to comment or repost this article with some of your pre-race don’ts. I know I missed some, so let me know your thoughts.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.