How to Crush It: The Insider’s Guide Race-Day Planning
When you train all season for a big event, the last thing you want to do is hose it up the morning of. Jitters, no time for warm-ups, and forgotten equipment can all spell disaster. But maybe you’re pretty organized and this isn’t your first rodeo? Well, we’ve still got some insight. We sat down with Joe Howdyshell, M.S., of Summit Endurance Academy to see how he takes his racers through the big day, and walked away with his killer three-hours-til-racetime cheat sheet—plus his thoughts on why meditation and journaling really matter, and if you should have that post-race beer.
Summit Endurance Academy Race Day Planning
3:00 pre-event: Wake, big glass of lemon water, 20 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of journaling about the plan for the day, whether it’s safety concerns for a big objective, or race plan/tactics.
2:30 pre: Good healthy-fat and simple-carb breakfast (stay away from too much protein). Example: one egg, rice and half an avocado.
2:00 pre: All equipment ready, one last small meditation/visualization about pre-event logistics and steps, including warmup, gear, nutrition, etc.
1:30 pre: arrive at objective venue
1:00 pre: ready and ready to warm up
:50 pre: 50 minutes easy skiing focused on technique
:30 pre: 2 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy, 1 minute hardER, 2 minutes easy, 1 minute hardEST
:20 pre: 5 minutes easy ski
:15 pre: If you sweat at ALL during your warmup, change your shirt, have a snack, some water, and get 100% ready.
:05 post race: change into dry top and warm up jacket, ski for 15 to 20 minutes
:30 post race: change into complete dry clothes, consume snack and drink at least 8 oz. water
Q/A With Joe Howdyshell
CCCSA: Why no protein at breakfast?
Howdyshell: During a race/effort, the primary concern is with fueling, so we want to stick with fat and certainly carbs to maximize fuel availability. Protein takes a long time to digest, so excess pre-race protein it can slow down both the process of digestion, and leave you a little short on quick energy.
CCCSA: Why meditation? Why journaling? And why BOTH?
Howdyshell: One of the fastest ways to make a mistake is to be thinking about something other than what you’re doing. During our average day, we’re thinking about 2-3 things at once, and probably DOING 2-3 other things. So we’re TRAINING ourselves to be distracted, which we know is the fastest way to make a mistake. So meditation allows us to learn to focus on SOMETHING, journaling lets us channel that focus into where we want it. After the clarity of a 20 minute meditation, it’s much easier to sit down and visualize your race/effort, plan your strategies, and mentally prepare.
CCCSA: What about post race?
Howdyshell: The separation from a decent athlete to a great athlete is almost never how much they train, it’s how well they recover. For the motivated athlete, training more is the easy part. What is harder is seeing recovery as equally important to their goal. And believe me, it is. So recovery starts the second your race/effort is over. You need to Your body immediately starts to cool off and you’ve just expended many calories and your body is having a hard time heating itself, so you need to get dry and warm now. Next, after an exercise session, your body is optimized to take in both protein to repair overworked tissues, as well as carbohydrates to refill the tank, and water for rehydration. But the longer you wait after exercise, the less it wants to sponge up what you eat, so you the faster you can get in a protein/carb snack, the better.
CCCSA: So much for that post-race beer.
Howdyshell: But, what most people don’t realize is that this should happen 80% of the time, and the other 20% you should just have a beer! Consistency is king, and if you avoid having that beer too many times, then you won’t be having fun and your efforts will probably be unsustainable. Beer isn’t exactly good for physical recovery, but who likes someone who can’t ever have any fun?