There are some things you cannot fully prepare for when approaching race day. You might get sick the night before a race, strain a muscle during practice, or allow the nerves to get the best of you. However, there are a number of factors that you can prepare for prior to a cross country or track competition.
• Practice: Attend practice every week. You will become a better runner if it becomes your priority to be at practice, rather than going to soccer practice or hanging out with friends. You cannot cram your preparation for a race because it takes time and consistent effort to improve.
• Listen to your coaches: Your coaches want you to do your best and they know how to get you there. They can only help you if you listen to them and implement their sound advice.
• Routine: Have a routine of what you do on the evening before and the morning of race day. This might include eating a certain item for breakfast or doing certain drills. This routine will help you feel comfortable and calm your nerves on race day. This routine will also enable you to feel more prepared for the race.
• Gear: Break in your racing shoes prior to the race so you know they fit properly and will not cause discomfort. Plan what outerwear you will use depending on weather, making sure to consider jackets, hats, mittens, and extra socks.
• Junk food: My coach would often tell us to stop eating junk food several weeks before important races so we would have more energy. Although this is a sacrifice, it will definitely help you to feel better on race day.
• Weather: When I was younger, nationals often took place in very cold places such as Rhode Island, Kansas, and Alabama. Being from San Diego, we were not used to the cold and we would hold practices very early in the morning to see how much gear we would need to wear to feel good during the race. Check the weather before the race so you will be prepared to run, rain or shine, humidity or snow.
Although there are many unexpected circumstances that may arise on race day, we can and should prepare for all of the surprises that await us. Confucius said, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” Because I run, I have learned the value of anticipating the circumstances that may arise on race day. Because I run, I have trained myself to adapt to new situations and be prepared for anything that might happen. Never let bumps in the road discourage you from achieving your goals!