While it's normal to be a little nervous on race day, maximize your chances of winning the next race by preparing your body and mind. You've spent months refining your technique, eating the proper nutrients, and training diligently, so now's the time to make it all come together. Give yourself an extra edge with these tips to prepare for race day!
Plan in advance
While this may sound like a no-brainer, you'd be surprised how many swimmers don't plan out a pre-race routine. Think about every step: what stretches you'll do, for how long, what music you'll listen to, etc. Use the times you've had an awesome performance in practice to build this pre-game scenario and perfect it so that on race day it feels natural no matter where you end up competing.
The best swimmers know that winning a race is just as much a mind game as it is a physical one. Spend time visualizing yourself with a win and a record-breaking time. See yourself accepting the trophy and cheering along with your teammates. And prepare for those last minute hiccups; how will you react if something goes wrong? Thinking through these scenarios gets your mind, and body, better prepared to deal with it stress-free if it does happen.
Get enough sleep
Of course you want to stick to your regular sleep schedule as much as possible, so try not to stay awake later than normal. If you're traveling for a meet, try to get adjusted to the new time zone as quickly as possible. Sleep is an important part of a swimmer's preparation and training, so make sure you are getting enough in the weeks leading up to the race, as well as the night before.
It's normal to feel stressed with such a big event coming up, but try to do things to take your mind off it. Whether it's playing with a pet, reading a book, or watching your favorite TV show, spend some time doing a mindless activity to decompress and destress.
This is not the time to try anything new. Don't try new foods that could upset your stomach, or change your workout routine either. Stay consistent with the program that you've been doing throughout your months of training and don't give your body any surprises!
Pack your bag
Definitely do this the day or night before; do not wait until the morning of the race as you're trying to rustle up some breakfast and run out the door. It will only add to your stress level and you'll probably forget something. Pack some snacks, changes of clothes, goggles, towels, liquids, and anything else that you think you'll need.
It's all in the details
There's plenty of stuff that you'll want to make sure you know before you arrive at the meet. The last thing you want to do is be caught off guard. Ask your coach what time warm ups are, what events you will be swimming in, whether or not the meet has positive check in, what the parking situation is like at the location, etc. Cover everything a few days before so you're not dealing with surprises at the last minute.
For dinner the night before, eat a well balanced meal with a healthy balance of protein and carbs. Stay away from carb-loading the night before, which will just weigh you down. And try to stay away from anything too acidic or spicy that could upset your stomach and negatively impact your performance the next day.
Get there early
Allow yourself extra time to get to the meet. There's plenty of nerves and stress on the day of a race; don't add to it by getting stuck in traffic or getting lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood. You don't want to be running in late to a crowded warm-up pool, much to the dismay of your coach and teammates. The night before, make sure you know where you're going, and maybe set an extra alarm so that you don't oversleep.
Behind the blocks
The big moment is here, so while you're waiting, do a "ritual" to get into the zone. And remember it's different for everyone. It might be silence, a conversation with a coach, reciting some inspirational quotes, or listening to a song that gets you pumped up! Whatever it is, do it with confidence and know that your months of preparation will pay off!
Now that you've done all the hard work, get out there and give it your best!