How to Make Your Perfect Pre Race Ritual With Examples from Pros

There's nothing like a good pre-race ritual where you've got the same thing going on, it gets you in the mood, you're jammed, ready to go, ready to have a great race, except you're here because you don't have one yet and you want to make it great. Well, I'm going to share with you today, my pre-race ritual, as well as some really famous professional athletes' pre-race rituals and help you figure out how to put together the perfect pre-race ritual just for you.
How to Make Your Perfect Pre Race Ritual With Examples from Pros

There's nothing like a good pre-race ritual where you've got the same thing going on, it gets you in the mood, you're jammed, ready to go, ready to have a great race, except you're here because you don't have one yet and you want to make it great. Well, I'm going to share with you today, my pre-race ritual, as well as some really famous professional athletes' pre-race rituals and help you figure out how to put together the perfect pre-race ritual just for you.

If you haven't been with me here before, I'm Jesse Funk, this is a show I call Runner's High where we talk about everything running every Tuesday and Thursday here on this channel. So if you love running, which I assume you do because you want to make that pre-race ritual. Hit the Subscribe button. Stick around with me for future videos.

So pre-race rituals are a big topic that come around pretty much every runner's life. As soon as you get around running and you've been racing for any number of time or you've been around a group of runners. Each individual has their own pre-race ritual when you're at least. I guess my experience is when you're racing in college, you often have a pretty similar pre-race ritual to your teammates because you're often all going to go warm up together and then you're going to go through your plyometrics and you're going to do this and that. But there are often little adjustments, little different things that work for that person that may not work for somebody else.

Me in particular, I'm not a big fan of music. I don't do that, but it is a huge component of some people's pre-race ritual, and that's something you have to figure out for yourself. So let's go through what does my previous ritual actually look like, as well as what are some famous runners and endurance athletes' pre-race rituals actually look like?

So get me out of the way because this is my show, so I'll talk about me first. My pre-race ritual is pretty straightforward. It's just a little bit over the years, but mostly comes to a few strong components, and that is one warm-up run. The amount of time has adjusted over the years, but from college on, it's basically been 15 to 20 minutes of running two to three miles. For me, easy running don't want to go hard. You're just going very light.

I do by time rather than distance, because maybe one day I'm going to be feeling, you know, like it's going to take a little longer to warm up or I don't go quite as hard on that easy run. I know that sounds silly. Go hard on an easy run. But just there's varying tempos inside that easy pace. Or sometimes I just want to go a little easier. So 15 to 20 minutes of running, then from there I have stretches and plyometrics.

This has changed over the years what I've done. I had a plyometric routine that I used in college. I think I've shown in another video on the channel, maybe back in season one of Runner's High the very first year. So subscribe, try to find that here in a minute. Maybe if we can find it, we'll link to it at the end of this video. But then I also do this routine now given to me by former pro triathlete Barb Lindquist, who was kind of my swim coach as I got into triathlon there for a little while. I mean, I was a part of the collegiate recruitment program or at least a hanger on, I guess, less official recruit rather than just kind of found my way in.

So 15 to 20 minute run, plyometrics that takes 10 15 minutes. It depends on how many I'm doing. I'll say 10 then strides. So anywhere between three and six, usually it's four of them. It depends on what the venue looks like if I've got room, but four is easy because it's down and back twice. So you end back where you started. Strides, if you don't know, that's an acceleration. So it's starting off slower, gradually getting faster, coming through, at least for me, your top end speed and then slowing back down. This happens over the pace of 80 to 100 meters. It depends on how I feel on the day, and then I'm pretty much ready to go.

One thing that changes a little bit is I always try to build in time for bathroom break. Depends on where I'm going, what the timing is, all that kind of stuff. But often I'm going to try to go to the bathroom as soon as I get to the venue because I'm there typically before the masses show up in the lives of the porta potties aren't real long at that point. And then if it's, you know, early early morning, I'm going to try to build in a second time because that's just how bowels work. Sometimes you get run in and things start moving.

So if you know it's going to be an early morning race, maybe adding that extra time. But overall, I know my pre-race ritual of running routine is going to take roughly 35 to 40 minutes. So I want to plan that out before the start of the race. But let's take a look and see what have some pros said that their previous rituals are, what are the things that are important to them?

One component of a pre-race ritual that doesn't involve that actual warm up. And I talked about how to design a warm up before in another video on the channel, but that you know what I just mentioned kind of encapsulates the high-level overview of what I'm doing. One part that is not in that is what you're doing the night before, and I've got here Gwen Jorgensen, who was the gold medalist at the Olympics 2016 16 Rio.

I want to pick on her because Gwen was actually recruited by Barb to the closure recruitment program and then brought through the program and successfully completed the program's goal of getting the U.S. Olympic gold. But I'll share Barb's pre-race ritual here that Gwen shares hers. Gwen says, "I always travel with the rice cooker so I can eat my pre-race dinner and pre-race breakfast in the hotel room. In addition to allowing me to control the portion sizes and eat as I normally do, this allows me to stay off my feet as much as possible the day before the race."

So the day before can also be part of your pre-race ritual. And this is something Barb talks about, too when she was racing professionally. We talked about pre-race meals that's that's part of her like lecture to up and coming elite athletes. What are you having that you can have consistently the night before race?

Her pre-race meal, she knew she could get pretty much no matter where she was in the world when she was racing was pizza, except she would get a pepperoni pizza with no cheese. So she was basically eating bread sauce and pepperoni, and that was her pre-race meal. But that was her go-to. So you deciding what's the food that I can stomach? What's the thing that I can eat in Gwen's case? So she has a rice cooker so she can make rice and whatever else she wants to cook in there.

The thing that keeps her on her own schedule, that was her thing. Barb does pizza with no cheese. I like to do rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and applesauce. No corn. Stay away from the corn. That's my most of my pre-race, you know, meal. And that's part of the pre-race ritual. But what have some, some other Runner's High said. Let's let's dive a little bit deeper and see what some other people are doing for their pre-race rituals.

Sarah Hall does that thing that I mentioned, I don't do and I don't like to do, but some people do. She listens to music, so she says, "I always listen to Lindsey Sterling's 2012 album." You know Lindsey Sterling, violinist. Way, way better than me. So I'm not going to pull up my violin right now. She always listens to the album more than the race as she's warming up. "It's something I listen to a lot in training, so it puts me in that mode that it's time to go out and grind. Just like I love to do all the time. I don't have to be superhuman or do anything I don't already do. I also like to pray and journal my prayers to get my spirit in the right place and focus on why I'm competing." So Sara does, I think, listening to music? But importantly, and she mentioned this, she does it while she's training, too.

So it's like, it's like that smell, a smell that reminds you of something in particular, something that takes you back to your childhood. For me, that's home interior candles and cigarettes, which I know is ridiculous, but it reminds me of my grandma because she smokes. We can't get her to stop. So that's just what it is. It's taking music because senses are unreliable sometimes taking music and linking it to a particular thing in this case, the non nervous, consistent thing you do in training and then bringing it to race day and saying, "this is the same thing I listen to every single time I do a hard workout."So then it gets your brain back in that mode. It's just another hard workout.

Interestingly, Sara also talks about writing her prayers down in a journal and writing that down there reminds me of 13-time Ironman winner, Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington. If you've read her book, I can't remember what the title of her autobiography is right now. I believe, I hope I'm not misquoting her, she writes down. I can't remember what it is she there's a particular poem she writes down, I think, on her water bottle before every single race, and she has it with her throughout the race. That's a comfort to her. So this is where it's kind of like more ritualistic.

I tried to develop something like this. I had to look this up. I think it was. The Invictus poem is what I was trying to use, and it it kind of ring a bell to me. But just having the materials to write it down and keep it with me just didn't. It didn't stick with me. I guess for me, the only thing that really stuck with this is I would envision all of the coaches I've had over the years and I carry them with me when I race. So that's the thing that's important to me, and I think that's the thing about finding a pre-race ritual that is unique to you. That is not just that warm up, finding something that's meaningful to you.

The coaches that have spent time with me over the years, they're all important to me and I've had a lot of coaches are high school churning through coaches like nobody's business. And then we change coaches in college. And it was I've had a lot of coaches, but they've spent a lot of time with me and they put a lot into me and so I carry them around with me instead of being a weight to bear. They actually helped lift me up. I much like, I feel like you want to make your parents proud. I want to make my coaches proud of me, even though they're no longer coaching me. I still feel as though I'm a reflection of some of the work that they put in parts of their lives that they shared with me.

So find something that's meaningful to you, whether that means, you know, journaling your prayers if you're particularly religious, like Sarah, what like Chrissy? If there's a poem that kind of sits with you or me in that case that I know that my coaches are important to me. So I kind of envision them and I hear the things that they've said to me over the years. They're the voices in my head as I go along in the race, and it's a little bit different because that's more positive self-talk. But that's something I think it's important to think about for your pre-race ritual.

So what all do we have that makes a good pre-race ritual? Of course you've got to eat the night before, so that's part of your pre-race ritual. You've got to figure out what is going to sit well with your stomach, fuel you for the next day, not have any problems GI issues for the next day, then the practicalities of it, you get to the morning of what time do you got to get up? What time does it take to the venue? And then you've got to run warm up, right? You got to do your plyometrics, you got to do your strides. Before you run warm up, you're got to do that strength routine doing that nowadays, thanks to Jason Fitzgerald at strength running.

You kind of do all of those things, right? But then from there, it's a matter of figuring out what's important to you. Is there anything meaningful to you? Do your parents matter to you? Does your religion matter to you? Does music get you in the right mood? What is that thing that really connects to your heart of hearts and gets you in a good place? That's the trick to being consistent over, you know, your career or all the races that you can do. You're going to have good days, you're going to have bad days. But having more good than bad is about consistency. Some of that comes to repetition, and some of that comes through doing this pre-race ritual because it helps with the repetition and gets you into that same place for performance.

So what I want to leave you with is the thought that you can do all these things, but the thing that makes the pre-race ritual unique to you is finding something that connects with you. And that's not something that I can tell you what that is or exactly how to find it. But once you do, I think you'll know it because you'll feel it. So if you're willing to share once you've found it out, please leave in the comments below. I think I and everybody else would love to hear what you do for your pre-race ritual. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.

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