I coach an amazing group of runners. For some, this is their first race….a half marathon! Not only are we training for this 13.1 mile race, we are also raising money for a wonderful organization: Project Understanding.
We’ve spent the past few months following the training plan, watching our nutrition, getting to know one another, working through the pain, learning what works – and what doesn’t, cheering each other on, hitting the pavement and hitting up friends & family for donations.
I put together a list of tips and tricks that I hope you will find helpful. I’ve learned many things the hard way, so hopefully you won’t have to! Many of you will feel nervous or stressed. It’ll be hard to sleep the night before, even for some of us more seasoned runners. Know that you’re not alone!
1. Eat what works for you. Don’t add anything new to your diet in the week or two leading up to the race. If you’re a clean eater, keep it clean. Eat a good size breakfast and lunch the day before the race and then something very light for dinner (I have a salad). I’ve seen too many people have issues with the race day carbo-loading spaghetti dinner…especially if they don’t normally eat lots of pasta in their usual diet.
2. Get all your stuff ready the night before the race. Shoes, socks, clothing (appropriate for how the weather will be that day – dress for 20 degrees warmer than the forecasted temp), fuel belt, hat, sunglasses, sun screen, body glide, lip balm, gel or other fuel, attach timing chip to your shoe and pin your number to your shirt or race belt.
3. Rest up in the days before the race. Stay off your feet as much as possible. Hopefully you’ve been heeding the training plan and tapering.
4. Arrive early. You don’t want to add extra stress with trying to find parking, your buddies, or check in. You’ll want to do some warm up exercises and use the bathroom before race time.
5. Items to stash in your belt: Aside from the regular stuff – water bottle, gels, phone (in a protective case or baggie)
• cash (in a baggie, so it doesn't get soggy from sweat)
• individual packes of Sport Guard anti friction towelettes. You'd be surprised at how many body parts are susceptible to chaffing! You'll want to address this sooner rather than later.
• electrolyte replacement tabs like Endurolytes by Hammer. Some runners use individual salt packets. If it's a humid day, you may need this.
• extra tissue (in a baggie, so it doesn't get soggy from sweat). Thousands of runners are using the porta-potties. Need I say more?
• individual pack of wet-ones hand wipes. For after the porta-pottie.
6. Don’t be surprised if everything doesn’t go according to plan. In fact – it seems like something inevitably goes wrong. Shake it off. Chalk it up to a learning opportunity. Having a ‘plan B’ is good.
7. Run your race. It can be intimidating being out there amongst thousands of runners who all look like pros. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement – and seeing so many people going so fast! Yes, it’s a race – but remember it’s about you accomplishing your own goal. Take it at your own pace, trust your training. Remember – you are a runner!
After the race: Enjoy yourself! Walk around the expo, talk to other runners, check out the vendors. It's a good idea to keep moving so you don't tighten up. Get something to eat. Get a massage. Get a beer and celebrate. One of my favorite things to do after the Ventura Marathon is jump in the ocean! That sand and cold water feel amazing on tired feet and legs. It's a great race in a great location. The director and staff of this race work very hard to provide us with an awesome race!
Questions or comments to add? Contact me!