Preparing for a track meet can be a daunting task. The meet may be tomorrow, but you’ve been training and preparing for weeks and weeks. To jeopardize the chances of a great performance because of poor pre-meet preparations would be foolish. This list of tips and tricks should help steer you in the right direction for properly preparing so that you can focus on what really matters–the meet!
The Day Before
Working out the day before should be calculated and simple. Don’t push yourself too hard; the purpose of a ‘pre-meet’ workout is to ensure that your muscles stay loose, and are primed to push hard the next day. You can roll out, do some mobility drills, stride out, or do a few approaches for jumps.
Eat a healthy dinner–based on your events, you may need more or less carbohydrates, but as long as you’re eating healthy foods, it shouldn’t matter too much. Try to avoid rich, or spicy foods.
Get to bed early–allow your body plenty of time to rest. The ultimate goal of the day before is to make sure that you’re physically, and mentally set up for the next day.
What to bring
Pack your backpack (track athletes love backpacks) the night before to minimize stress on the morning of a meet.
Spikes, socks, singlet, half tights, full tights, long sleeved shirt, light jacket, rain protection (if necessary), water, gatorade, snacks, trainers, advil, sunscreen, and a hat.
The Morning Of
Eat the same thing you do before workouts. The last thing you want to do is surprise your body with something it isn’t used to having. You never know how your body will react to having different foods in your system prior to a meet. Try an english muffin with peanut butter, a banana, and a smoothie.
You rarely see professional athletes in their singlet until moments before their race. We amateurs can learn a lot from this. Keeping muscles warm and at a constant temperature is important to having them be able to function at 100% during the race. Even on a hot day, you should get to a meet with at least three layers on; light jacket, long sleeved shirt, t shirt, and singlet, while having half tights, full tights, and warm up pants on as well. For jumpers, make sure layers are put back on in between jumps to maintain muscle warmth. This is especially important with long jump and triple jump, because you have to run consistently down the runway each attempt to land on the board; a change of even two inches between approaches can be the difference between a mark and a fault.
Breaking a sweat during warm ups/prior to your event means that your body is actively getting warm and getting ready to compete. Don’t underestimate the importance of being warm for an event. Not only will you reduce the risk of pulling a muscle, you’ll be in a more efficient state of processing oxygen and be ready to perform at the highest possible level.
It’s important to eat during the meet. Don’t take this as a free pass to buy one of everything at the concession stand though–eat in small increments frequently through the day to stay energized without getting weighed down by a heavy meal. Some simple options are bananas, peanut butter and honey, crackers, or energy bars.
This may be the most important tip here. You’re already competing against others physically in an event, why burden yourself with an internal struggle of doubt? Prior to an event, your mind is best off visualizing the best race you can run, and positive outcomes. It’s crucial to RELAX! You’ll be doing yourself a favor by keeping your mind and body in a state of relaxation. Stay positive, and take deep breaths. Tightening up your muscles because of nerves prior to an event will result in them remaining tight during the event, and won’t allow for full muscular capacity to be used, so make sure that you stay relaxed and ready to run.
Warm Up Like You Compete
On race day, you’ll be pushing your body harder than you’ve ever pushed in practice. It’s important that you ensure that your body is ready to push, just as your mind is. Warm up with a bit more intensity than normally, and make certain that you’re getting ready mentally and physically.
While none of these tips have to do with the race itself, they’re a good way to make sure that you’re set up to perform as well as you possibly can. We hope that these tips will help minimize the stress endured on race day, and allow you to focus on what really matters at a meet. So go get some sleep, pack your backpack, put on some layers, and relax!