Please read this with the usual disclaimers- I’m not an experienced ultra runner so as my race craft improves I’ll change some of these things, and what works for me might make you violently ill. Remember- don’t try new stuff on race day!
Sleep- I never sleep well before a big race, but get as much quality sleep as you can. It will make you calmer and you probably won’t forget quite as much important stuff…..
Let’s assume you’ve trained your bum off, carb loaded correctly, snipped your toe nails and slept well. You’ve laid out the night before all the stuff that you need in the morning, and you’re staying somewhere near where the race starts. If the race begins at 7am, I’m going to get up at 5-5:30am. Here’s what happens next-
5:30 Breakfast. Four Weet Bix (or non toasted muesli) topped with chopped apple plus other fruit if available, a bit of yoghurt and some skim milk. Black coffee (a little stronger on race day if possible, maybe 20%), and a bunch of vitamins. For a short race (half marathon or less) I’ll add a tablespoon of chia seeds to breakfast. Read the paper online
6:00am Off to the bathroom for various reasons- hey you don’t want to ruin your race before it starts right?
6:10am Put on socks, shoes, body glide, compression gear, shorts, nipple tape, heart rate monitor, singlet. For longer races I’ll add extra foot care- strapping, compeeds, lubrication. For trail races I’ll add a layer of anti leech stuff on my lower legs.
6:30am arrive at start. Begin sipping a 600ml bottle of sports drink- Gatorade, Powerade or Endura if I’ve remembered to make it up.
6:50am Two puffs of a Ventolin puffer- as an ex asthmatic this helps my breathing a lot. For a shorter race I’ll have a gel at this point. Hand over excess gear to wife, line up for race!
Note- Chia seeds are one of those things that tree hugging vego hippies like to proclaim as a ‘super food’ and there’s nothing more likely to turn me off something than calling a ‘super food’. In this case though, there seems to be something in it. These things seem to give me a boost of endurance- not energy as such, but ability to carry on longer than normal. They don’t taste bad, and in longer events I’ll sometimes take an empty 300ml flask with a tablespoon of them inside. I fill up at a checkpoint and drink immediately. Tastes better with honey but not too hard to get down if you’ve been slamming down gels all day. I don’t fill the flask early because they absorb the water and become gluggy, with the risk that you won’ be able to get them down your throat.
After any hard session I try to get some protein down as soon as possible- be careful with protein powder as too much makes me very farty, much to my wife’s disgust.
What’s your plan?