Three years of racing nearly every other weekend gives you lots of intel on what to do—and not do—before a race. I’m not a superstitious person; I don’t have a lucky sports bra or feel the need to put on and then remove my shoes three times consecutively at the start line. In fact, there aren’t actually a lot of habits I’ve formed leading up to a race. Like most people, I try to stay hydrated, eat healthy, and rest up beforehand. But there are a few things experience has taught me to NEVER do before a race:
1. Eat seafood pasta at a sketchy Italian restaurant
Let’s set the scene: It’s the night of Toughest Mudder LA in 2017. The race starts at midnight. It’s currently 6:00 pm and time to gobble down a final load of carbs with enough time to digest before the race starts, so I decide to go with some friends to the nearest Italian restaurant. It’s a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, but sometimes those restaurants turn out to be gems. I figured some sort of pasta with a simple tomato sauce and a few shrimp would be a safe bet and easy on the stomach before racing 8 hours. Turns out I was wrong; shrimp or no shrimp, tomato sauce or cream sauce, all 10 other people who ate at that restaurant with me joined me in eight straight hours of being Immodium’s most loyal customers.
2. Pack my race gear the morning I travel
If you’re thinking this wouldn’t be the most sensible application of procrastination, you’re right. There are only a handful of things one needs to run a Tough Mudder race—some shorts or tights, a sports bra, and a pair of shoes chief among them. In my last-minute rush, I forgot the most essential item on that list. Lucky for me, the Tough Mudder community is an awesome group of people who don’t pack last minute, and in fact even bring spare size 7 shoes.
3. Sleep in
My husband is extremely awesome in most ways, but everyone has their quirks, right? Dearest Ryan, who also competes in every race that I sign up for, feels the need to wake up hours before the start of his race to have enough time to digest breakfast. I’m a light sleeper and when I’m excited for a race, this means that I’m up with him. I get to see wee hours of the morning that few witness. It’s almost become a tradition of ours to haggle back and forth for 3 minutes more or less sleep when we’re setting the alarm the night before.
Sometimes you learn the hard way, right? I tried to think of slightly more average things I would or wouldn’t do before a race, like eat ice cream the night before, but I’ll admit I did that on my birthday one year—and I had a fantastic race the next day. However, to this day I triple check my bag for shoes…and avoid shrimp at all costs.