There are countless articles out there that will tell you all different life hacks about how to find the perfect morning/daily/race routine. But, in my opinion, there is no perfect routine instead, there is only the routine that gives you the confidence and mindset to conquer your day/work/race.
Stephen King said of his daily routine,
“There are certain things I do if I sit down to write,” he said, “I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places. The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon."
King's routine is as mundane as they get but it has allowed him to succeed as one of the greatest writers of the 20/21st century. The power of routine is summed up in King's final statement, " The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon." There is nothing unique about his daily routine. Instead, it is just the opposite. It is beautifully simple. However, it is his process that puts him in a mindset which allows him to begin "DREAMING". Your routine should leave you with a feeling of confidence and sense of purpose.
When I was freshman running xc, my biggest weakness was a weak stomach. I vomited after nearly every race and occasionally during the actual race. Anyone who runs knows it's hard to focus when you have to worry about keeping down your breakfast. My first solution was simply not to eat before races or hard workouts. This worked brilliantly, until two weeks later I passed out at a particularly hard morning practice. Obviously freshman year me wasn't the brightest. After talking to my coach, Chris Bennett, it was clear that I needed an eating routine. I needed a routine that no matter what, I knew if I followed it, my stomach wouldn't be an issue on race day.
My race day eating routine became the most important thing to me on race day. No matter where I was, when the race was, who I was racing, how long the race was, there was one thing I knew I had to do on race day. I had to eat 2 plain bagels 4 hours and 10 minutes beforehand. There were mornings it sucked! Pawlowski relays 4x1600 goes off at 8am that means at 3:30 am I was up choking down two bagels and a bottle of water. Holmdel Twilight meet at 8 pm, looks like bagels for dinner. But once I started that routine I never cramped again!
As I got older and learned to be more confident and trust my fitness, the two plain bagels turned into any two bagels. Maybe a Cliff Bar if I was feeling especially adventurous. The 4 hours and 10 minutes became anything around 4 hours before the race. But I'd be lying if I said that before every single big race of my college career I didn't get back to my bagel routine. It was something I had confidence in. Maybe that was a weakness but I didn't care because I embraced it and allowed it to give me comfort in the hours before the race rather than anxiety.
My race routine is boring. It is simple. It works. It's mine. I don't recommend my routine. Instead, I encourage you to find what works best for you. Find an area of weakness in your running and attack it, with a routine.
Maybe you get nervous before your race. That's good: it means you care. But don't let those nerves get to you. Maybe on the bus ride to the meet when you get most nervous, when you wish the bus would just break down so you don't have to run (yes I've had that thought a lot) take out your running log and read through your best workouts. Look at all the hard work you have put in, all the miles you've logged. Give yourself the confidence you need to succeed!