Gabe Joyes - Getting Ready for Your Goal Race
I have a confession: I’m scared of my goal race...
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You know the “A” race that motivates you to train hard, the one you got in through the lottery, or you had to qualify for, that race that you dream about? Yeah, that one—it terrifies me. I’m not scared because I think it will be too challenging, but because I know sometimes we crush it—and sometimes the race crushes us.
So much is on the line for a goal race; maybe you’ve worked your whole life around the event, and you’ve definitely put in hours of relentless training. While there is no guaranteed way to make sure your goal race is a success, here are a few hard-learned suggestions that might save you some deep disappointment.
1. Show Up Physically Prepared
- Every great race begins with a great effort—and you just can’t fake fitness. Besides doing the hard work in training, make sure you are physically prepared by doing the little things—like working on mobility, or strengthening that weak ankle—to make sure you show up to the starting line physically healthy. Fitness is a combination of Stress + Rest, make sure you don’t forget the second half of that equation. Train hard and rest hard.
- Don’t let blisters the size of apricots or chafing from shorts make you waddle to a DNF. Do your apparel and equipment homework early: the Jackal has some extra cushion and room for toes during long ultras and the Tempo Shorts keep my thighs alive.
- Get your pre-race and in-race eating dialed in. It is possible to overeat on beets the night before a race, and coffee ice cream in the morning is not as effective as a real cup of coffee. You’re welcome. Don’t skimp on munching in training or racing—running with snacks is more fun and better for performance.
2. Show Up Mentally Prepared
- Often the best ultra runner on race day is the one who is the best problem solver. What are you going to do when you make a wrong turn? Get stung by a bee? Completely lose your appetite? Have a plan to make things right after they go wrong so that an upset stomach, painful feet, loss of will, or just feeling like crap doesn’t lead to a decision you later regret.
- You don’t expect an ultra marathon to be easy, right? So, be prepared to struggle. An attitude of gratitude can help reframe tough moments; while racing I reflect on how fortunate I am to be in a beautiful place, or healthy enough to be running so far, or to have the support of my family and friends.
3. Get What You Signed Up For
- Convince yourself you are having a great time—even when you are not. Every 30-minutes a “Smile and Eat” alarm rings on my watch to make me grin and have a snack. Those smiles add up and I guarantee it will help you feel closer to your best—even if it is forced.
- Be prepared to make the most of every single situation. Whether you are having the race of your dreams or one of the hardest days of your life, you can still choose to radiate sunshine and make everyone else’s day. Races are a community celebration, and it’s not just all about you, so helping others crush their goal race is a surefire way to make sure your “A” race is a total success too.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gabe Joyes is a member of the La Sportiva Running Team.
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