Many successful runners are slightly obsessive. It’s the trait that gives us the self-discipline needed to stick with training plans, watch our diet, and track our progress.
But in the week before a race, when our physical and mental energy sits idle as we cutback on miles, that obsessive-ness can become our worst enemy – driving everyone (including ourselves) nuts.
Here are five things runners overthink in the week leading up to a big race – and some strategies to stop that nonsense.
It’s not out of the ordinary for runners to check the weather three, four, fives times per day, each day the week before a race – stressing about what to wear, what not to wear, what to pack, etc. But regardless of how often you check, you can’t control Mother Nature and a forecast seven days out from a race is not dependable.
- Strategy: Check the weather once a day – preferably in the evening before bed so you’re not tempted to recheck it every few hours. Have three outfits planned based on variations in the forecast and read our tips for adverse racing conditions.
2. WEIGHT GAIN
It is not uncommon for runners to gain a few pounds during the taper – in fact, it’s a sign you’re tapering correctly! You are not burning as many calories, your food intake isn’t changing all that much, and you are focusing on hydration so you’ll likely be 2 to 4 pounds heavier at the start line.
- Strategy: Don’t weigh yourself during race week, and remember it’s perfectly normally. You’ll lose any extra weight you gained by the end of the race.
3. GETTING SICK
Being in great shape leading up to a race can be derailed if you get sick. How can you run your best when you are inhaling snot with each breath or hoping your sphincter will make it to the next porta-potty? Getting sick is a legitimate fear but treating the world around you as a constant threat to your health is an obsessive black hole.
- Strategy: Drink lots of water, eat healthy foods, take your vitamins, adhere to strict hand washing, and go to bed early. In other words, take extra care of yourself and – if you want to be even more safe – don’t try any new restaurants or foods.
4. ACHES AND PAINS
The taper week (or weeks) are intended to help your beat up body heal before the big race. All this resting leads to thinking which leads to phantom pains. Sure, you definitely have real aches and pains – it’s a sign your body is rejuvenating itself – but they’re not as bad you think.
- Strategy: Follow a good taper plan that includes easy runs and incorporate lots of stretching each day. Also, get a massage or do some self massage or foam rolling.
When you sign up for a race, you often have a goal in mind – whether it is to PR or to just finish. The week before a race is not the time to obsess about how well you will do. You’ve done all you could do. Your active training is over. What you have for conditioning and strength is pre-determined at this point.
- Strategy: There are many factors out of your control that can affect race day performance. Look over your training log and focus on all the hard work you put into your runs and your training. Trust that, stop obsessing, and enjoy the ride! You’ve earned it.
Written by Rob Haneisen.
- Stay sane. Tips to tame the taper crazies
- How to rest and rejuvenate properly before a race
- Five pre-race habits to help you stay on track
- What to do when race day isn’t shaping up as planned