Dear Coach Laura,
I have been preparing to participate in a 5K next Saturday, March 23. The training program that I've been (trying to) follow tells me to do two training runs next week, one on Monday and a light 20-minute one on Wednesday. I'm sure that's so I can be well-rested for the 5K, but the problem is that the training program thinks that my 5K is on Friday, a day earlier than it really is. Should I still work out just twice next week, and then have a three-day rest before the actual run? Or should I try to squeeze another workout in there somewhere?
Also, do you have any advice as to what and when to eat the day before and the morning of the race? Does it matter? I want to maximize any energy that I can, you know, have enough but not so much that I'm bogged down the morning of.
Any other advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated. The race starts at 9 a.m.
Woo hoo! Congratulations on running a 5K this week! It sounds like you've been working hard towards this goal.
You're right about your training program - it seems counter-intuitive to ramp down your distances leading up to the race, but the idea is that if you run less miles in the week leading up to the big day, you'll be more well-rested. If you think that waiting 3 days from Wednesday until your run on Saturday is too much, then mix it up a little bit. You could do the suggested runs/walks on Tuesday/Thursday instead. Whichever schedule you opt for, do make sure you take Friday (the day before) off and rest completely. On Monday and Wednesday, you can do some strength-training or stretching/yoga exercises those two days.
Nutrition-wise during the week - I recommend lots of fruits all week long. The natural sugars in those will give you energy all week long and help get you pumped up. Another high-energy food you can add to your meals are beans. If you're worried about the negative side-effects of those, try adding parsley or cilantro to the beans. Try to eat as natural/clean as you can all week. Cut out sugars, etc., except for those good ones from fruits. Also make sure you're hydrating well all week long. The recommended amount of water is half your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink at least 75 ounces of water each day. I personally recommend at least 100 ounces of water each day. Try to not do all that at one point in the day - hydrate throughout the day. Start hydrating now if you haven't already.
Morning of the race - A warm shower in the morning can help loosen up your muscles. Have a piece of fruit before the race for breakfast. Don't eat a huge, heavy breakfast. For a 5K, there's no need to "carb-load" the night before or week of, more than the fruits, beans and healthy eating we've discussed. If a piece of fruit isn't enough or feel enough, have a piece of toast with some almond butter or something similar. Allow yourself plenty of time to park and get to the race start. The last thing you want to do is feel rushed and stressed that morning.
When you get there, do some light jogging/walking to warm up. You don't need to stretch out before - just warm up the muscles you'll be using.
As for the actual race itself, don't start out too fast. It will be hard not to with all the excitement and energy, but remember you've got three-plus miles to go, so start out easy.
Having said all this, you know best of all what you're capable of, what food, etc., will work best for you. Listen to your body and just do your best. You're going to do great! Just go out there and have a great time!
To your health,