The Night Before – Or Why My Shoes Are Hanging from a Door Knob

So it’s the night before the race, and that means thinking about all the little prep that goes on in the lead-up to the race. And can I just mention that I love that we call them races when most of us are just trudging around for 5,000 meters? I digress.

This made me realize I hadn’t really covered this topic too much, except maybe in passing. So here we are. We’ll start way out and then work a little closer to the race day, stopping at the point where we’d be at the event. Welcome to my neuroses.

Tapering is one that a lot of folks talk about. In the days leading up, the ease off their mileage and go for shorter runs. I take it a bit further: I don’t run, typically. It’s not that I don’t see the benefit of the cool down; it’s that I don’t recover very quickly at the moment from runs. My legs were shot from running on Sunday, so I went to a light yoga class I usually attend to help get my legs prepped for the race. And then yoga made me even sorer. It was a beginner’s class that was by no means strenuous. When I’m in a bit better shape, I do try to go for a quick run that lets me hit my form and a good pace, but I would keep it to a mile or less. Basically enough to go through the motions. Unfortunately, can’t do that these days. Maybe I will later in the year if I can keep up the habit.

The rest of these are typical race prep topics, but this race has a curve ball. It’s in the evening. I’m used to running at 8 or 9. This will be nice in some respects, but it makes me focus on the full day, whereas I’m usually only worried about the supper before and breakfast before.

Since we’re talking about food, seriously, I love food. I like pizza, burgers, chinese food, anything that could be bad for me. Wait, why are we talking about food?… Oh yeah, meal prep. This is totally on topic. Carb loading. Serious runners engage in carb loading. I don’t. Not intentionally. I just eat calorie dense food and pretend I’m carb loading (this week consisted of a pizza in one sitting, fried chicken, fried catfish, a grilled cheese sandwich, fries, a couple different servings of mashed potatoes, and some macaroni and cheese, among other bad decisions I called carb loading. It was all tasty, and not a single nutritionists/runner/person-with-common-sense would call that carb loading. But that’s ok. It all tasted fantastic. I may regret these choices tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, this totally disrupts my usual routine, both for a weekend and for a race. Normally, I’d eat something safe the night before and something light for breakfast. Now I’m not worried about supper (hopefully I don’t rue that decision). Even breakfast isn’t a big concern. I have to worry about lunch and if I’ll need a light snack. I’m not a good snacker, so I kind of want to just eat a bit later at lunch. This is weird game of gambling on timing that I did zero prep work for. Even my evening runs aren’t typically this late, so I don’t have a good sense of how my body will react to running this late and what food will work best.

Sleep is the other days-ahead prep that occurs. A lot of people stress out about the night before, which, as it turns out, doesn’t matter. Really, it’s the nights before that matter. Sort of like carb loading. You’re prepping your body so it’s ready to go. Last-minute problems don’t really matter. You’re body’s equipped to deal with a bad night’s rest, just not 5 of them in a row.

And of course, this race is different. I don’t have an alarm set. I should at least get a decent enough night’s rest. But will I nap? Should I nap? I love naps, but when I run on the weekend, it’s usually in the morning or if I’m working in the afternoon. In other words, I don’t know what running after a weekend nap would look like.

And of course, the real neuroses show up when talking about gear and travel.

Gear should be easy. I always keep a set in the office and a set in the apartment. In other words, I can’t forget what I need before the race no matter where I could feasibly be. But still, I laid out my clothes and misc. gear out 24 hours before I really needed it. I’m worried I’ll forget something even though I’m at home and have to get dressed before I leave. Short of accidentally walking about with slippers on (and this has actually happened) instead of running shoes (of which I have two pairs I’m comfortable running in), there’s no real issue.

Travel is a little dicier. I’m not traveling far, but it’s a place I haven’t actually been before, and I never bothered to travel that way to make sure I knew where I was going. Theoretically, it should be straight forward, but ever since that time I missed a turn I knew where was and ended up on an extra 40-minute drive in New Mexico, I tend to take travel a little more seriously.

So yeah, that’s all the prep I can think of (excluding picking the right playlist). Hope you found my neuroses entertaining. Hopefully, I’ll have survived in good enough condition to update on how the next race went (and maybe, just maybe, I can beat my first 5K’s time this go round).




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