Are you waiting for an upcoming competition? Anticipation is growing, but also a slight nervousness? Now, it’s important to keep your inner calm – and to focus on a couple of points, in order to be able to perform at the very best of your abilities on day X and to show how well you have been preparing.
Your final preparations start at least two weeks before the competition. Not only your body, but also your mind should be prepared for the big day, so that nothing will be left to chance on the day of the competition.
The last two weeks before the competition
No «making up for missed training»
Generally, shortly before a race, you cannot make up for sessions you’ve missed anymore. So close to the competition, very long or very intense sessions are to be avoided. You have done your work, rely on that! However, you might want to do some ascending runs at the end of sessions, as they keep your muscles ready to compete. Just follow the training plan.
An ideal tapering means reducing your training amount the weeks before a competition. However, that does not mean that you only relax (Taper Week vs. Recovery Week). You should still be training, but only short sessions.
Your material (running shoes, clothes, hydration pack, etc.) should be tested and, if required, whipped into shape now at the latest. You should be familiar and feel comfortable with the material you use at the competition on day X. Don’t pack your gear the morning of the competition, but do that the day before. You might even want to compile a little check list, to make sure not to forget anything: running shoes, spare pair of running shoes, socks, tights/shorts, shirt, watch, refreshments, hat etc.
Planning: Arrival and course
Plan your competition in advance: journey there, key points of the course, refreshment stations, placing friends and family as spectators/supporters along the course etc. Engage actively with the course and go through the competition in your mind beforehand – with a successful finish, of course. You can even listen to a motivating song, which you then listen to again at the day of competition, in order to get into the right mood.
Eat balanced and include enough carbohydrates (whole grain pasta, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc.) in your menu. The last three days before the competition are especially important. But be careful: there is a risk for «too much ». You can find some recipes here. And don’t forget to drink enough water.
It doesn’t always have to be pasta. An ideal alternative are, for example, sweet potatoes. Cut them in small cubes and mix them as a curry with a little bit of ginger, served on couscous, topped with sprouts.
Aside from training, many people are very busy: work, family and friends, as well as a lot of leisure time activities. As a result, they often miss out on getting enough sleep and recovery, both of which are important pieces of the puzzle. Thus, it is to be recommended that you slow down a bit and go to sleep early two weeks before an important competition. You might even have time for a power nap at lunchtime. Or a massage, provided you don’t have it all too shortly before the competition.
No matter if you have a slight pain somewhere in your body, if you have had a bad night’s sleep, or if you have started doubting; don’t let yourself be thrown off the track. You only waste your energy. Focus on something positive, like a special training session, or try to focus on your excitement about the upcoming competition.
How do you get yourself into the right competition mood? Please leave a comment.