How to prepare for your next big sporting event

Got a sporting event coming up? Here's how to prepare for the big day and smash your goals!

Preparing for an important sporting event requires a combination of physical training, good nutrition, rest and mental preparation. Here's what you need to consider.

Preparing in the weeks leading up to your event

In the weeks leading up to the big day, your focus will likely be on training and mental preparation. You diligently follow your training plan, putting in the hard physical work and visualising yourself at that starting line or on the field when the first siren sounds.

At this stage, it's important to focus on:

  • Following your training plan
  • Practising your event-day nutrition
  • Maintaining the balance between rest and training
  • Preventing injuries by recovering well
  • Staying motivated and focused
  • Eating a healthy diet and hydrating
  • Strategising for the big day.

It's essential to practice your game-day nutrition and hydration before the big day. If you're going to be sweating a lot, choose a drink with electrolytes to help balance the level of electrolytes in your body.

Preparing the night before

When you reach the night before your big day, you've done the hard work – physically and mentally. You've completed the training and remained focused. You're almost there.

The night before is all about getting your mind ready and preparing for how the day will run. You'll need to:

  • Psych yourself up – nerves are normal at this stage but use them to your advantage
  • Prepare your equipment – ensure the essentials, like your running pack, nutrition, water and outfit, are ready
  • Plan your travel to and from the event – make sure you know how you're getting to the event in enough time, factoring in any traffic issues
  • Eat properly – don't eat anything new the night before as you don't want to risk an upset stomach.

The importance of sleep

Getting enough sleep in the weeks before your event – as well as the night before – is essential. As difficult as it may be, try to get to bed early and get seven to eight hours of sleep.

Those pre-event jitters may keep you awake and make it hard to fall asleep. To avoid feeling stressed or anxious, write a list of things to do in the morning, so you have a clear plan and feel in control.

Preparing in the morning of your event

The big day has arrived! After you wake up and check off your to-do list, eat a healthy breakfast and leave home in enough time to get to your event.

When it comes to breakfast, make sure you're not eating anything different or changing your habits. Even small changes in your diet can upset your stomach and impact your performance. Finally, relax and enjoy the day!

During the event

"Nothing new on race day" is a common nutrition mantra for athletes. Ideally, you'll have practised your nutritional plan during your training, so you know what to consume during your event.

It's also important to drink enough water, especially if it's a hot day – but don't overdo it as drinking too much water can cause complications. Whether you choose to consume gels, chews or an effervescent, follow a plan that you know works. Everyone is different, and there's no one-size-all approach to nutrition. And check out our article on proper event recovery to ensure your recovering well, ready to smash your next big event!

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