Last practice before my last competitive stair climb of the season. #ALA #fightforair #ClimbColumbus #RhodesTower A Middle-Aged Woman's Guide For Successfully Completing a Competitive Stairclimb
...because completing is the optimal word here. You want to finish without blowing out your knees, coughing up one or both lungs, or having a heart attack. There is a definite reason that the American Lung Association calls their regional climbs "Fight for Air."
1. Hydrate. Drink a freakish amount of extra water starting about 48 to 72 hours prior to the race. You will overheat quickly, and you don't want to start the race dehydrated.
2. Eat conservatively and lay off alcohol. Stop drinking alcohol and eating foods that you know can be unkind to your system about 48 hours prior to the race. I love my vodka, but alcohol is dehydrating (refer to #1 above).
Similarly, there are some foods that can make things unpleasant for my system. Something about a race always seems to trigger the fight or flight sensation in some folks' bodies. When that happens, your body starts a rapid purge that can end embarrassingly.
I'm sure you've seen memes of the poor runner who lost it (ahem) during a marathon, no doubt experiencing some of those symptoms. It's not funny. Believe me - you don't want it to happen to you.
To avoid this, I stick to tried and true, non-upsetting foods and keep it light. For my system, that's stuff like toast, bananas, turkey, scrambled eggs, plain steamed rice or pasta, and broth-based soups that aren't too salty or spicy.
3. Fuel yourself lightly before the race. DO NOT begin on an empty stomach. Safe choices for me are a banana, or a Medifast bar, or a half cup of yogurt, or an apple with a schmear of peanut butter, or a single scrambled egg. Notice I put "ors" in between each of those options. Do not feast, but eat one small portion of good fuel.
If you're a heavy caffeine person, allow yourself a small portion the morning of the race. Rather than my morning hammerhead (black coffee with a shot of espresso, sprinkled with cayenne), I'll make a single or double shot of espresso in my Nespresso machine. It's not too much volume at just a few ounces, but it keeps me from getting a headache due to no caffeine.
If you don't normally consume caffeine to get your heart started in the morning, race day is NOT the time to start a new habit.
4. Stick with tried and true. The week before or even days before the race is not a good time to get a new pair of shoes, new running pants, try new technology, etc. Wear the shoes you know have proven themselves to you on workouts and climbs, and that have a few miles on them already. Ditto for clothing. Ditto for tech. Use the tech you can operate without having to look at it - the tech you know how to work blindfolded.
5. Do what you can to relax often and sleep well. I'm a terrible insomniac as it is. I try not to worry about sleep, and focus on removing a lot of excess stimulation from TV and computers in the evening. Breathe, relax, and repeat. Staring at the television, your phone, or the computer will actually make it less likely that you can sleep or relax. I read myself to sleep. The Kindle Paperwhite is light, I can have the screen illumination very low, and it doesn't cause the same kind of visual stimulation that a computer, tablet, Fire, or phone screen will.
6. Have fun. That's what this is all about. You may be climbing for a cause, or for competition, your health or the health of a loved one, or just for fun. Remember you are only competing with yourself, and the #1 goal is simply to cross the finish line.
Keep on climbing!