The Post-Race Treat You Should Be Using Pre-Race Too

Photo credit: John Taylor

Photo credit: John Taylor

War Hammer 100.

It’s only 2 hour’s drive, so that’s easy. 

It’s not a mountainous 100, or one in winter weather, so the gear is simple.

My drop bags were still mostly packed from Massanutten 100 so I had a head start. 

And even though I had super busy week, I had the Friday before the race off, so I left all my packing until then.

Oh, and my everyday car needed an oil change, so I scheduled it for Friday morning. 

No problem.

Except the oil change took longer than planned, packing took longer than planned, and suddenly I was short on time.

Then the door on the van I was using for the trip jammed open. As a thunder storm approached (I kid you not!).

And even more thunderstorms slowed driving to Friday’s packet pickup down to a white-knuckle crawl.

I arrived at packet pickup with 10 minutes to spare but more importantly, I arrived stressed, drained, and tired. No longer enthused about a race I’d been enthused about. 

Not a great way to start.

My mistake? Not practicing good self-care.

Runners usually think of self care as something we deserve if and when we finish. Massages, rest, eating whatever we want…that kind of thing.

If we’re pressed to define pre-race self care - well, that’s kind of obvious too. Get some sleep. Don’t hurt yourself. Taper your mileage down.

Except I’m talking about something deeper. 

The self care I’m talking about is managing your energy - keeping your own internal battery charged and positive.

Look ahead a week, maybe two, before the race, and clear anything that’s going to drain you, distract you, or bring you down.

Here are some examples:

  • Pack well ahead of time

  • Avoid books, magazines that leave you in compare and despair

  • Skip social media feeds that inevitably leave you down

  • Clean your bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen so it’s peaceful before and when you return

  • Hang out with positive people who support you

  • Cancel commitments and obligations you hate or don’t have time for

  • Reschedule appointments (like my car’s oil change)

  • Find ways to ditch errands or do them all ahead of time - I stock up on good-quality frozen food so I don’t have to go to the grocery store

And of course, have a reliable pre-race routine to deal with the nerves.

Make life as pleasant, peaceful, and easy as you can before the race. Then, when your van door jams open (got mine fixed at the shop around the corner, seconds before the skies opened up!), you can deal with it and still have plenty of energy and time left over for the race.

Don’t forget you’re the one doing the running. If you don’t take good care of yourself before the run, your battery may not have enough charge to handle everything that comes along during the race.

Self care isn’t just a treat. It’s a necessity.

And it’s not something you have to earn by finishing. It’s something that helps you earn a finish.

Susan Donnelly’s signature

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