The competition season is heating up. Last Friday I raced a 1500m at the Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic, and this week I am heading to Eugene, OR for the 5000m during the Friday portion of the Prefontaine Classic. As much as I enjoy training hard, nothing compares to the thrill of competition. I love when race week arrives and I can go through the preparatory rituals that precede a race.

For me, race prep begins around a week out from a race when I do a full visualization of the race, starting with my strides before toeing the starting line and then encompassing every stage of the race right to the finish. With a week to go, I feel like all the heavy physical and mental preparation is complete and the rest of the week is about feeling good and enjoying the fact that a race is on the horizon.

My training pattern going into a race involves a tune-up workout, usually three or four days out from the race. The specifics of the workout will vary, but it’s always fairly short and sweet and incorporates some work at race pace and faster. Two days from a race I have a very light day that I call that the “shut down” day, and I do one six-mile run at an easy pace. Often times this is the day I will travel to the meet location, and it’s easier to fit one short run in around travel. The day before a race I do my normal pre-meet routine, designed to wake the body back up and get ready for the race.

On race day I make a schedule that works backwards from race time and includes everything I need to do: warm-up; times when I’ll eat throughout the day; departure from the hotel for the track; etc. Having a written schedule helps because sometimes when nerves and adrenaline are building I don’t want to think or make decisions and prefer having a pre-scripted plan I can refer to. A picture of my plan from last Friday’s race is below.

When a race is in the afternoon or evening I go for a short activation run in the morning to help wake my body up and get blood flow going. It’s a progressive 15-20 minute run (starting very slowly and finishing faster than normal run pace) followed by some drills and strides. Sometimes I feel great and sometimes I feel terrible, and neither seem to have any bearing on how I’ll actually feel during the race, so I try not to read into how I’m feeling in the morning and instead focus on the purpose of getting myself ready for the race later in the day.

Last Friday was a good run through of my routines leading up to a late race and I’ll carry that template with me to Pre. The 5000m is set to go off at 9:27pm, and I am very excited to have the opportunity to compete in a world class field. The meet will be streaming live on USATF TV from 8-10pm. My teammate Kate Grace is scheduled to run either the Friday 800m or Saturday 1500m, and Lauren Wallace will be pacing the 5000m, and I am looking forward to making the trip to Eugene with teammates later this week!