Are you Race Weekend Ready?

May 24, 2022 | Sports, Summer

Race Weekend is back!

These past two years have been isolating and challenging for all of us. As restrictions continue to lift, the opportunity to connect with others again in social situations, like travel and organized fitness, have become more possible. Warmer weather has returned to the Capital and so has Canada’s biggest marathon weekend! This May 28-29, Ottawa will be abuzz for the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend.  

Ottawa Race Weekend is here– are you ready?

Race weekend has been an annual event in the National Capital since 1975. It has grown into the biggest multi-distance race event in Canada and boasts the largest marathon in the country. During the pandemic, races were changed to virtual events, and this year’s race options will still include a virtual option along with the return to in-person racing. Thousands of participants are expected to return this year and participate in the kid’s marathon, 2k, 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon. Thousands more will flood Elgin Street to encourage loved ones as the races unfold over the weekend. The behind the scenes challenges and logistics of putting together such a huge event post-pandemic deserves a large round of applause and the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend relies on the dedicated support of more than 2,500 volunteers. Approximately 200,000 spectators are expected to cheer on runners along the Rideau Canal, at official cheering stations and along the course throughout the weekend.

Race Weekend excitement combined with the warmer weather, is a wonderful recipe resulting in the motivation to get out and move. Whether you choose to run or walk, the positive energy in the city leading up to race weekend is contagious. If this is your first race, there are a few things to consider in preparation for the weeks and days leading up to the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. 

Taper your exercising

As Race Weekend approaches, it is important that you decrease the amount you are exercising. For many people, the decreased running can be unsettling and feel counter-intuitive. Avoid replacing your runs with lots of cross-training. The taper is designed to allow your body to recuperate, rebuild, and be fresh and ready for race day. Consider this as part of your regular self-care leading up to the race. Use the time to see your chiropractor for some pre-race tune-ups and consider a massage to address some pre-race jitters. It’s okay to relax – it will pay off come race day. Adding in extra training at the eleventh hour can cause your fitness level to dip and actually lessen your race-day potential. Enjoy the rest and focus on readying yourself mentally for the race.

Nutrition

Planning is the name of the game on Race Weekend. It is a good idea to experiment in the weeks to months before the race so that you’ll know how your body reacts to certain foods and how long before running you should eat. However, in the last 3 days before the race, the experimenting should end. What is most important is that you eat foods and drink beverages that you are accustomed to consuming before training runs. Race morning is not the time to try a new breakfast sandwich. In the days leading to the big race, there are foods to avoid and better options for consideration.

Avoid:

  • Salty foods or foods with high sodium contents
  • Alcohol
  • Foods with a high fat content
  • Foods with a high fibre content

Consider:

  • Calorie and nutrient dense foods
  • Foods you digest easily  
  • Foods with higher carbohydrate content, for the days leading to the race. 

During a longer race, you may need to refuel. Again, this is not the time to experiment. Stick to the products and brands you know.

Avoid stressors

On the days leading to Race Weekend, get organized. First and foremost, make sure you know where to show up on the day of the race. Plan how you’ll get there, where you’ll park if you choose to drive, and allow enough time to get there with the expected increase in traffic. Many roads will be closed on the day of the race.

Secondly, survey the course map and familiarize yourself with it. Know where water stations and bathrooms are located, but also find out if there are significant hills on the course. Know also which corral you are in – this will dictate your starting position in the crowd at the start of the race. 

Lastly, pick up your race kit ahead of time. This year’s race kit pick-up is located at the Health and Fitness Expo at the Shaw Centre. Race Kit Pick-Up is always busy, so please give yourself plenty of time to collect your race kit and t-shirt. Prepare all of your clothes the night before – you don’t want to find out you’re missing your favourite running socks the morning of the race!

Running Form

Pay attention to your form on Race Weekend. Running by yourself is very different from running in a sea of thousands of runners. It often takes a few kilometers to find a comfortable space in the crowd. You may feel the need to run faster than usual, to try and weave your way through the crowd at the starting line. Start at a slower pace than usual and keep at it. You’ll be glad later that you didn’t burn up the extra fuel at the start. Running faster than usual can also affect your form.

Keep in mind these few pointers:

  • Relax your shoulders and upper back
  • Keep your head high and run with your gaze ahead of you
  • Take small, quick steps
  • Aim to land on your midfoot
  • Run light and avoid pounding

These tips can help prevent stress that could strain and lead to increased risk of injury. Being present while you run also helps keep you moving efficiently. If you feel like your form is getting sloppy, move to the side and walk at a brisk pace for a minute, recenter yourself, and get back at it.  

Breathe

Along with good form, proper breathing when running will decrease your chance of getting any stitches or cramping. Breathe in two steps and breathe out on the third. That will improve the depth of your breathing and relax your muscles. Practice belly breathing in the weeks prior to the race – it can be very helpful come Race Weekend.

Relax and enjoy yourself!

It’s normal to have race day jitters – use that energy positively. Unless you are a serious competitor at the race, Race Weekend is meant to be a fun event for all participants, volunteers and spectators. You’ve put in long hours, early mornings and many kilometers to get to race day. The sea of cheering alongside every stride will make each step a little lighter. The pride, confidence, sense of accomplishment you will feel at the finish line are the best rewards for all of your hard work. Flash a big smile for the cameras as you cross the finish line – someone will be there to immortalize this great moment for you!

Best of luck and congratulations to all the participants at this year’s Race Weekend! 

To book your tune-up before the Race Weekend, call 613.860.8600 for our Byward location, 613.237.9000 for our Glebe location, or book your appointment online.