Now that I’m an OCR expert (total sarcasm), I figured I’d share my patented pre and post-race checklist. I am one of those people who like… errr NEED to check items off a list in order to feel prepared. I couldn’t find one out there that included all the items I consider important, so being the Capricorn that I am, I made my own. Annnnd since I’m also a hotel connoisseur (not joking on that one) and seasoned fitness instructor, I’ve also included some helpful items to consider when planning as well.
- Plan your race schedule. I know that one’s a given, but I want to make sure you’re awake. I’d also like to point out that you need to consider leaving enough time between races to recover. Really take a look at your schedule to make sure it works for your job and your body. Or throw a dart at the schedule and sign up where it lands, whatever.
- Make travel plans. Are you driving there for the day or making a weekend out of it? If you’re like me and want to take the weekend to explore after working your literal ass off, you’ll need to consider things like requesting time off of work, booking a hotel room, and making sure any pets and/or children are taken care of.
- Be prepared to succeed or be prepared to lose. I always make a work-out and meal schedule for the weeks prior to race day. Keep in mind these races aren’t in a climate-controlled building, so I would suggest switching it up often. Do some heavy weights a few days, stadiums another, a trail run the next day, and keep it moving. Know the terrain and elements in your course and plan whether to focus on upper body, cardio, etc. Train in the elements. Sure it’s raining out and it’s Monday and you’re tired, but you better be prepared for less-than-perfect conditions.
- Know what you’re wearing. My motto is as little clothes as possible. No, that’s not because I’m a skank, but because clothes get in the way, get caught on stuff (barbed wire), and tend to chafe in areas I’d rather not have a rash at on mile 7. Compression gear that alleviates swelling and aches will save your life on race day. I cannot stress enough how important it is to try your gear out, too. Oh and those brand new shoes you ordered, you best damn believe you’ll regret it if they aren’t broken in by the big day. I order my gear at least a month in advance so I have enough time for delivery, trying the stuff out, and exchanging items if needed.
- Find a hotel near the most activity. Seems easy enough, but most of these races are in the middle of nowhere. Consider whether or not you’d rather be close to the race, or close to packet pick-up and somewhere to eat before and after. If celebrating when you’re done is of importance to you, make sure your hotel is near your watering hole so that you don’t have to worry about making it back safely.
- Find a discount. Most races have a discount set up at hotels in the area. Check their website or social media event pages to see if they do. You could also look into reward programs (The Hilton Honors program is free to join and usually saves you about 5%), or if there are any applicable discounts available for AAA, AARP, etc.
- Book in advance. Most of these races fill up well in advance, as does lodging around them. Rates typically increase the closer you get to your arrival date as well, so book your accommodations as early as you can.
- Have a plan for breakfast. If your hotel doesn’t serve breakfast (either complimentary or at an additional price), know where you’re eating or plan to bring your own food. Eating a good meal before a race is 124% necessary. I made the mistake one time of thinking there were places to eat around my hotel… wrong. You try doing a Spartan Super on a ski resort without eating anything for breakfast. Just kidding, don’t try that. It sucked.
- Hot tub. Hot tub. Hot tub. This is probably just my preference, but I make sure to have a hotel with a hot tub, in case you didn’t pick up on that. Not only do I use it after the race to ease my muscles, but I like to hot-tub-it-up the night before and roll my muscles right after so that I’m stretched the eff out to my best ability.
- Factor in a good night’s sleep. Cheapo’s, this one’s for you. Make sure you have a decent place to sleep. I love camping, but I will not camp before I compete. Getting a good night’s sleep is imperative before race day and shouldn’t be overlooked. Don’t let a terrible mattress or college party / hookers in the room next door keep you up.
WEEK BEFORE RACE DAY
- Plan your meals. Are you carb cycling? Fasting? Have a plan and stick to it. This is go-time, what you do the week before will effect how you perform.
- Get enough nutrients. A good diet is important, but so is ingesting the right amount of nutrients. POTASSIUM my friends. Eat a banana every damn day or your shins will yell at you.
- Drink water, so much water. If you’re a baller, step it up a notch and break out that coconut water.
- Don’t push it too hard. Staying relatively active the week before is important, but the last thing you want is to pull something right before a big race.
- Roll your muscles every night. Hands down the best roller out there is the Morph Collapsible Roller by Brazyn. That bad boy is collapsible (hence the name), which means it won’t take up too much space in your gym bag or luggage so you can virtually take it anywhere.
- Clip your nails. That is, unless you want to eat dirt for the next 3 weeks.
Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to pack.
- Clothing. Depending on gender and preference, this can include compression shorts or leggings, compression socks (compression errrthang), a moisture-wicking shirt, sports bra, arm sleeves, sunglasses, headbands, etc.
- Chap-stick. I mean it. You’ll thank me later.
- Hydration. Bringing a Camelback? Make sure you have a nice, clean bladder to go along with it.
- Support if needed. Don’t forget your trusty ankle brace, knee brace, etc.
- The right shoes. No, not your Sketchers or Uggs. You’ll need shoes that can drain water and withstand the elements and appropriate course. Tennis shoes are good for stadium runs, but trail shoes are better for open courses.
- Electrolytes. I started out using Gu Energy Gels, but have since upgraded to Tailwind Endurance Fuel. Bring enough to last the entire race.
- Accessories. For all you social media gurus out there, don’t forget your GoPro and it’s appropriate parts (harness, case, etc).
- Sunscreen. I should probably specify, sunscreen that’s waterproof. And girl, don’t forget to spray some on that part in your hair unless you want to sit at your desk and itch all week.
- Paperwork. After all, you need to get into the daggum race. You’ll need your admission ticket, ID, and waiver. If you received your bib in advance at packet pick-up, don’t forget that too.
- Cash. You’ll need a little extra dough for parking and bag drop (buy in advance if you can, it usually saves a few bucks).
- First aid kit. You never know what bumps and bruises you’ll acquire on the course. I’d suggest at least bringing a few band-aids for blisters and minor cuts.
AFTER RACE NECESSITIES
- Comfortable clothing. Bring something to change into like sweat pants, a t-shirt, flip flops, clean undergarments, etc.
- Towels. You’ll need at least one to dry off with. Bring baby wipes if you’re a clean freak like me. Extra towels to put on the car seat never hurt, either.
- A bag. Seems small, but bringing a bag for those dirty-ass clothes really helps.
- Snacks. Coconut water, granola bars, bananas, an extra large pizza… you know.
- Gym bag. You gotta put it all in something, am I right? My suggestion would be the transition bag from GYST (“Britt2017” will get you 20% off, byyyy the way). This particular bag lets you separate your dirty clothes and shoes from your clean items, and even has a flap that folds down onto the ground so you’re not stepping on prickers or more mud while changing shoes after the race.
- Foam roller. If you haven’t jump on the rolling train yet, you should.
WEEKEND ITEMS IF STAYING OVER
- Bath necessities. Bring as much shampoo and soap as you can carry (only slightly exaggerating). Those itsy-bitsy hotel bottles stand no chance against the mud that will come out of your hair and undercarriage. Oh and don’t forget Q-tips, because you’ll have more mud caked in your ear than you think can fit.
- Lotion. Mud drains basically all the moisture out of your skin and you’ll probably be sun-burnt on at least one area of your body.
- Clothes. Come prepared for the rest of the weekend. Going out? Staying in?
- PJ’s. Pack something comfy to sleep in, because sleep is awesome.
- Swimsuit. Just in case you’re making use of my hot tub suggestion.
- Make-up. This if for the ladies, obviously. If you plan to wear make-up during the race so you don’t look like a zombie in your race photos, bring waterproof mascara.
- Hair essentials. I’ll let you decide what that means to you. Ladies, don’t forget a pony-tail holder or 7.
- Medicine / vitamins. Ibuprofen always helps after a race, as does vodka.
- Chargers. For your phone, GoPro, smart watch… whatever.
- Payment. For the hotel room, duh. Don’t forget about the gas it’ll take to get there, too.
- And just to put this out there… a damn good bottle of champagne to celebrate.