It’s all about what works for you…
Pre-race stress can be pretty intense. Before a major race I often spend days obsessing over it, and losing sleep in the process. The taper phase doesn’t help with this at all. Less time running gives me extra time for worrying. I think the key for me to do well in a race is to not take it too seriously. Unfortunately, it’s rather difficult not to care about something you’ve spent months training for.
I believe that finding a way to deal with pre-race stress is almost as important as training for the event itself. I’ve struggled for years to deal with nerves the week or so before a big race and I’ve finally stumbled upon something that works for me. It‘s perhaps a little unconventional, but it has two major benefits: it relieves stress, and it makes me sleep.
This pretty much sums it up: I get drunk two nights before a race. Sounds like a stupid thing to do, doesn‘t it? I could try to justify it on a carb-loading principle, but most scientists aren’t buying into that. I‘ll have to stick with stress relief, and sleep. Anyone who has ever had a hang-over knows how hard it is to get out of bed the day after a night out. So I don‘t. The day before the big race, there’s really no need to get up and moving. It is the ultimate rest day.
Why not lie in bed sipping Gatorade (the athlete‘s and the drinker‘s beverage of choice), while intermittently sleeping?
I’ve been teased a fair bit about my pre-race activities. A couple of friends have started calling it the Big Mac and Beer Plan (I also have a tendency to indulge in unhealthy food). And while I might not recommend it for everyone, it’s working for me. The valuable advice in all of this: find something that will let you sleep well before a race. It makes a world of difference.