Preparation is essential and beneficial when it comes to physical fitness. You can see it in your friends and peers on the track and in the gym. When we don’t properly prepare before the big marathon, or go out partying before we try to hit a new max on the bench, we almost always suffer massively when it comes to our performance.
The fact that you are on this page means you already are a step above your competition, so good on you. The truth is, there are quite a few things you can do to get yourself in the best possible mindset and peak physical form the day of an important run, marathon, or just your daily jog.
By the end of this article, you will be able to strategically place yourself in the best possible headspace physically and mentally for the next time you have to show off your cardio.
Ways to Prepare the Night Before
On top of preparing the night before a run, you can also make sure that the week prior you are getting sufficient sleep. This is especially important when there are two days before the run.
The night before any big moment in our lives, we tend to sleep poorly from the stress and our racing mind, so you can balance this out by making sure the days leading up to that big moment you are well-rested.
Try to Relax
Anyone who says they have never felt nervous, anxious, or panicked before a big event they have put a lot of thought into is not only lying to you but probably to themselves. It is human nature to rack your brain over all the possible things that could go wrong, but you are doing nothing but hurting yourself thinking like this.
Try to find things that help you to relax to lean on, and try to minimize the importance of it in your mind. Mentally obsessing will not help your performance.
If you find that you don’t know anything that can help you relax, you can try to learn new ways to calm yourself. Some people like to read, you can look into mental wellness activities like yoga or meditation, etc. The biggest hurdle we can get past is our own head, which weirdly enough can at times be our biggest enemy.
Don’t change up your diet last second hoping that it will give you some minor edge. Stick to what you usually nibble on and try to keep yourself drinking plenty of water. While it may seem beneficial to suck on a kiwi and grind up some wheatgrass, you want things that your body is familiar with and you know won’t adversely affect you.
The only reason you should change up your diet is if you’re inhaling pepperoni pizza and fried chicken on a daily basis, as greasy food is a bad move the day before a run.
Obviously the night before a race you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol or a lot of caffeine, both will affect your performance in different ways. Alcohol is going to make you feel less perky in the morning and may even cause a hangover. Caffeine will keep you up on a night when you are already going to have a hard time sleeping, so stick to water if you can.
I like to assume other people can relate to me when I bring up the countless times I had a big event, interview, or meeting where I got up three hours early to make sure I was perfectly prepped just to find out I can’t find my car keys.
You don’t want this to happen to you, so put out everything you are going to need for the race, how to get there and what you need beforehand to make sure nothing goes wrong. You have enough on your mind without some giant hiccup getting your head all twisted up before you have to run your ankles off.
After you do this a couple of times it will become second nature and you never have to show up to an event realizing you are wearing a pair of jeans.
Try to Give Your Legs a Break
Do not overtrain or you will regret it. The week of your run should be trying to give your legs as much of a break as possible; imagine having to try to reconcile shin splints within forty-eight hours of a race—probably not ideal.
Instead, do your best to try to relax as much as possible, since the biggest wall you will have to overcome leading up to the race is almost entirely mental.
Get to Bed Early
Even if you may not feel particularly tired, laying in bed and trying to relax and focus on your breathing may help you sleep better the night before. Avoid bright monitors like your television or phone as they will keep you awake longer than you need to be. Instead, do your best to relax, make sure everything is set for the early morning, and hope for a restful, satisfying sleep.
Even if you only manage a couple of hours the night before try not to panic. As long as you have maintained a good sleep schedule the few days prior to the run, you should be able to perform to the best of your ability.
The bottom line is that if you are in a race you have been preparing for some time, lean on that experience that has led you to this point as a mental crutch to get you past those pre-race jitters. With these helpful tips and your endless hard work up to this point, you should do just fine, best of luck!