Three Ways I Prepare for Competitions as a Student Athlete
woman running competition
Photo by Nicolas Hoizey on Unsplash

Three Ways I Prepare for Competitions as a Student Athlete

Oscar Frost April 2, 2022

Race week is always a nervous time for student athletes, so any opportunity to alleviate those nerves is a worthwhile exercise. Here are three things that I do in race week to ensure I’m performing at my best.

Do not change too much of your regular training routine

In the days before a competition, disrupting your regular routine can be detrimental to performance. I always try to prepare as though it is a training session, rather than attempting to change my routines. The need to change stretching or activation exercises the day before, or on the day, of a competition is usually more of an indicator that there should be a change in training routine, rather than changes implemented just leading up to a race.

The only thing I do make sure of is that I am getting enough sleep. Sleep is one of the best tools to extract as much performance as possible, and a lack of sleep is also one of the easiest ways to ensure a sluggish race. That’s not to say you should put your life on hold in order to get huge amounts of sleep, but running on eight or nine hours sleep will lead to increased performance.

Find a balance in exercise

In the days before a competition, it’s important to find out what balance of exercise works in order to feel optimal come race day. For me, I usually find that I have struggled with doing too little exercise pre-competition. Although resting before is important, I’ve found that not exercising at all can make me feel sluggish. Even just going to the track to warm up, or a short session, means that my body can keep ticking over, ensuring it will be ready and firing for the competition.

Being a student athlete, it can also be difficult not to lead a largely sedentary lifestyle. This is also why I find it important to keep the body moving through a light session in the gym or on track in order to stay bouncy and energised.


Nutrition is important in both the long-term and short-term preparation for competitions. The most important pillars of sports nutrition stay true in pre-race preparations. I focus on making sure my protein and carbohydrate intake is reasonably high. There is an idea that carbohydrates and sugars are bad for a healthy lifestyle, but it is important to remember that carbohydrates fuel the body during sport. The last thing you want during a race is for the body to start shutting down because of a lack of fuel.

Staying hydrated is just as important. Hydration is key in preventing the buildup of lactic acid, staving off having to slow your pace. As a 400 metre runner, going as far as possible before hitting the lactic wall can be the difference between winning and losing. Therefore, I make sure to keep a water bottle on me at all times in the days leading up to a competition.

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Hi, I'm Oscar Frost, and I'm a second year History student from Oxford. I study at the University of Birmingham, and am also a sprinter in the athletics squad. Sport is my passion, but I also love writing about anything and everything that I find interesting in the student world