What do you do to prepare for an event? Has your ritual changed over time? Is your ritual different depending on the course, the distance, the importance you place on the race?
For me, the answer is yes, yes and yes.
I am very set in my ways when it comes to marathon preparation. I prepare everything but my chip the night before. I lay out my clothes and pin on my number. I print my directions. I pack my bag with one PowerBar, four bottles – two with water and two with Gatorade – a change of clothes, my phone, my wallet, a brush, my keys, my flip flops, and two gels. I set out my breakfast, one bagel with honey. I get up 45 minutes before I need to leave. I always have one coffee. I wear my shoes and attach my chip. I arrive 30 minutes early. I am nervous but I am ready.
For a trail run, I study the course a couple days before. I mentally prepare for the climbs and the hours it will take. I leave time to get lost twice on my drive. I arrive 20-30 minutes early. I toss stuff into my bag the night before, without too much concern, but I bring layers just in case and a Gatorade for after the race. I only carry one water bottle as I know the aid stations will be great. I try to remember a small camera. I never do. I am in some realm between nervous and relaxed.
For 10K or half marathon, I barely give them any thought. When I get my number in the mail or print the directions off the web, I toss them in a bag and don’t think about them again. I grab my shoes as I am walking out the door. I cut my arrival close. As long as I am there before the start, I am happy. I am very relaxed.
On Saturday, I am doing a 33K trail run at Muir Beach. I have already studied the course. I think it’s gonna be hard.
I am studying the elevation. I like to know when I will be going up and down as I run.
Looking at this, I see nothing is more than 1000′ climb. That’s no problem. I am confident now. I am glad I checked. I don’t think it’s gonna be that hard.
We all approach our runs differently. We learn what works and many of us never deviate. I like my rituals, or lack thereof. I find comfort in knowing what I am doing the 12 hours before a race, because I never know what’s gonna happen once I start running.