Maria’s Top 5 Pre-Race Rituals

Unfortunately, there are many variables that are beyond our control on race day. Inclement weather, stomach bugs, and eternally long porta potty lines are just a few challenges that can throw a wrench into plans for a PR or podium finish. Over my years of racing, I have developed some pre-race rituals that have helped me be as prepared as possible for factors that I can control.

Maria Dalzot racing in the PNW.

1. If I am traveling to a new destination, I look up grocery stores near my hotel, find out how early the coffee shop opens and research restaurant menus to find the one that makes the perfect pre-race meal. I make dinner reservations so I am not trapped waiting for an hour on a busy Friday night and end up eating much later than I am used to and consequently get to bed later than anticipated.

2. I lay out my race kit, warm-ups, nutrition and anything else I want to bring with me one week before the race. This way I can look at it all week, see what I may be missing and adjust for weather changes. When the time comes to leave the house, I can travel confidently without the uncomfortable feeling that I forgot something.

Laid out race kit the week before the big dance.

3. If I know that the weather is going to be cold or that my hands will likely get numb in cool temperatures, I pre-open my race nutrition that won’t spill or ooze out like bars or chomps or I make sure to store them in a place that I don’t have to unzip to get to –which can be really hard with gloves on. I always have hand warmers packed just in case.

4. I study the race course profile and elevation map and program the course into my GPS watch so that I do not get lost or take a wrong turn during the race. Many times, runners have been turned around due to course marking vandalism. Having the course in my watch makes me more confident knowing that I can refer to my map if a turn is questionable.

5. If traveling by plane, I always have my race kit in my carry-on just in case my checked baggage gets lost or delayed. Before the 2011 NACAC Mountain Running Championships, my bag got lost en route to Mexico. Luckily, I had my uniform and shoes with me. Race shorts don’t make the most comfortable pajama bottoms, but at least I could sleep soundly knowing I would be ready to go when the gun went off.

Maria Dalzot

Maria Dalzot

Maria is a La Sportiva athlete, USATF National Trail Champion and multi-time US mountain team member. She is also a registered dietitian (RD) and a Washington State certified dietitian-nutritionist (CDN) with a Master of Science degree in human nutrition and food science. Maria works with people of all ages and disciplines to meet their performance and health goals.

Trail Sisters is committed to creating opportunity and participation for women in trail running. Our content is always free to read. Consider a monthly contribution on Patreon to support Trail Sisters so we can continue to inspire, educate and empower others!

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