Over the eight weeks’ final build up to the London Marathon I am blogging some ideas you can use to stay on track and ensure your mind is as prepared for your run as your body is. This post, with five weeks to go, suggests you prepare yourself a pre-race routine.
Some people have superstitions they follow. A lucky charm, the same safety pins they use for every race number, always having a t-shirt under their running vest. There is a great list of superstitions followed by famous athletes here. While these superstitions can give you a feeling of security and comfort if you can’t find your charm, or your t-shirt is in the wash you’ll feel very out of sorts. Better is to have a routine you follow before every race that you feel completely in control of.
Your pre-race routine should be personal to you, fitting your own personality and preferences and full of the things you have discovered help you run well. Putting them all together into a pre-race routine helps you focus your attention, reduce your anxiety, improve your confidence and block out distractions before your marathon. It can cover just the hour before you race or it can go back up to 24 hours to put in place everything that you know helps you perform at you best. This can include warm up routines, how you like to engage with others beforehand, preparing your kit, what you eat and drink or how you travel to the venue. Your routine will help you transfer your attention from the nerves and anxieties to things which will help you focus on doing well and make your marathon successful. And it should become something you do before every race or competition so it becomes automatic.
There are lots of questions to ask yourself when you write your routine:
- Training: Do I want to train the day before the race, if so what session? What time do I like to train?
- Mental skills: What mental skills will I use: visualisation, self talk? Will I prepare a ‘what if’ plan?
- Kit: When will I pack my kit bag? Have I a list of everything I need? Have I recently used my kit to know it is not damaged or likely to chafe? Will I be able to store it somewhere?
- Travel: How will I get to my race? Have I checked the routes? Am I sure I know where the venue is? Are there road / train works? Is there parking? What will I need to pay for?
- Food: What do I like to eat the night before a race? What do I like for breakfast? Will I be able to get hold of it if staying away? What time should I eat breakfast?
- Warm up: Does my body like a warm up? Will I avoid people or chat to others? Will I listen to music? Will I take any nutrition before we start? Will I practice any mental skills before the race?
When you’ve answered all of these questions you can timetable in all these activities so you know you won’t have forgotten anything important and can feel confident you are fully ready to race. If you would like a timetable to follow you can download a worksheet here.