As of post time the countdown clock for my first marathon will be at 61 hours 54 minutes and some change. That’s not much time. But I’m ready and confident in my training. I’ve logged the miles and now it’s time to trust my body and make those pesky brain-monkeys hush themselves.
At this point everything I can control is done or has a plan to be done, it’s the things I can’t control, like the weather, that leave me a little jittery. But there is one thing that I am absolutely sure of – I will run this marathon and I will finish this marathon and IT WILL BE AMAZING! How am I so sure? Because. I decided to make it my truth. Simple. As. That.
So I thought I would share some of my pre-race tips. Some of these are my own advice, some of these were lovingly borrowed from people much smarter and wiser than me, but all of them are helpful and worthwhile in some way.
You’ve done all the hard work so now it’s time to maybe do one last shakeout run, mine will be today, and then let those legs and tootsies rest. You want to be fresh on race morning. Take this time to self-massage, hydrate, and relax.
The Day before the Race:
- Generally this will be your Expo Day! While expos are great places to find new products and things to try out – DON’T try them out at your race! You’ll want to stick with the products you already know and love.
- Don’t drink alcohol the night before and be sure you get a good night’s sleep. It is said that your best night’s sleep is not the night before the race but two nights before. (If you’re like me, you swore off alcohol as of last Sunday.)
- Pasta is good the night before but it’s even better a couple of days before. That way the glucose that your muscles will be burning during your race has a chance to build up in your muscles. You are loading up the carbohydrates which will be your best energy source come race day. Be sure that you don’t try some new sauce or super spicy sauce on your pasta though. Stick with a meal you and your tummy are comfortable with. For me it’s Chicken Alfredo with Broccoli, Carrots, and Snow Peas.
- Choose clothes and shoes to suit the weather. If you’re travelling to an out of town race make sure you pack options for all weather types. There is nothing worse than waking up to much hotter or cooler temps on race day and not having any alternative options! Don’t forget your timing chip and/or bib!
- Lay out your outfit! Including your nutrition, sunglasses, gloves if needed, hat, socks, race belt, bib, etc. This gives you the opportunity to do a second and third check before race morning when your nerves will make you forget something!
- Hydrate with fluids especially if race day is going to be warm. I usually keep a Contigo water bottle at my desk and fill it back up each time I go to the restroom.
Race Day – pre-Race:
- Drink water when you wake up!!
- Have a light breakfast up to two hours before. Again, stick to what you know, if a bagel and peanut butter has worked for you throughout training do that.
- Give yourself enough time to use the restroom before you head out to the course. You’ll be most comfortable in your own clean space. If you do have to wait until the port-o-lets at the race try to use the furthest from the start as you’re walking in. They tend to have the shortest lines and most TP. 🙂 AND GO EARLY! Lines will only get longer the closer to start time you are.
- Give yourself adequate time before the start of the race to warm-up and properly prepare. This is very important even if you’re only walking. It should involve all muscle groups. Warming up should consist of 10 mins of walking/jogging and light active stretching 30 – 60 mins before the race.
- Wear sunscreen even if it’s cloudy. Nobody likes skin cancer. I’m a huge fan of Sun Bum.
- Don’t forget your timing chip and bib number, race belt, nutrition, sunglasses, etc. As I mentioned, I usually lay these out the night before with my outfit.
Race Day – On the Road!
- Approach the race conservatively. Remember whether it is a half marathon or marathon, it is a long way to go. You’re going to feel amazing in the start – all the adrenaline and the atmosphere but don’t get swept up and go out too fast early… you’ll remember why when you approach that last stretch.
- Smile! Smile early, smile at volunteers, smile at other participants, and smile at photographers! JUST SMILE! It’s such a small gesture but I promise it’ll make even the hardest mile feel just a little easier.
- Water stations will be provided along the course. Hydrate early and don’t wait till you get thirsty or you are starting to struggle. By then it is too late. Drink even if you’re not thirsty. That way you’ll stay hydrated. If you’re worried about water stops affecting your time then carry your own hydration.
- If you have used Gel’s or GU’s in your training make sure you use them when you race. Whatever system you’ve worked out in your training runs use now! Remember – Race Day is not the time to try new things!
- Blisters and chafing are common complaints that can be treated by First Aid officials along the course. Don’t be scared to ask for assistance. I don’t leave home without my 2Toms Sports Shield!
- If you’re tiring during an event, be sure to rest. Do not under any circumstances push yourself beyond your ability. If you feel dizzy, blurry eyed, dehydrated, wobbly and/or unstable on your feet, please seek medical assistance immediately! You are not irreplaceable and there will always be another race.
Celebrate Good Times, Come On!!! – Post-Race:
- Keep drinking lots of water after the race to restore body fluids and assist in muscle recovery. Your muscles are still working even though you’re not running anymore.
- Once you start to cool down, take a few minutes to stretch all the major muscle groups. This will get your body flowing and prevent muscle cramping and aches and pains later on. Your warm-down is just as important as your warm-up. It definitely helps in recovery by breaking down your body’s waste materials. Ex: Lactic Acid…
- Celebrate!!!!!! YOU DID IT!!!!! Find your friends or a perfect stranger and give them a hug and a high-five. YOU ARE FREAKING AWESOME!
Have faith in the training that you have done and try not to over analyze your race beforehand. Make sure that you use the first 5km to try and get into a good rhythm to set you up for a great race. Don’t panic if you are slightly off your target time at 5km – usually the start of a race can be very congested and it will take sometime before everyone sort themselves out into their right rhythm/ pace. Just remember the immortal words of a pretty cool tortoise, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Good luck to everyone racing this weekend, wether it be here in the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon or elsewhere, I know you’re going to be amazing!