Written by Kate Oneill Tenforde September 13, 2012
Race day is almost here! Remember to lay low and stay off your feet the days before the race (no Expo attendance for longer than 1 hour). Your reward is race day itself and the challenge of running. . . .
Make sure you get outside and feel the air. Go for at least a 20 minute walk or jog on either the day before, or two days before (or whatever is on your schedule).
Think about what you did, not what you didn’t do in your training. When you go to pick up your race number and run into old friends, family etc. everyone will want to ask about your training so they can tell you about theirs. Forget about theirs and don’t compare yourself to anyone. You followed a terrific training schedule and are well prepared.
On race day eat a light breakfast of 200-300 Kcal of carbohydrates including the sports fluid you drink. If you have a normal pre-race breakfast then stick with it. Don't try any new foods before the race. Drink gatorade (or any sports drink that doesn’t include protein) and/or water frequently to assure you are hydrated (clear urine is a good sign). You should stay well-hydrated throughout the morning before the race. At some point prior to the race stop drinking so you can empty your bladder before the start. It is important to refrain from over-consumption of water alone, as that will drain your body of needed electrolytes.
I suggest you take some throw away warmups to the start especially if it rains or will be cold. This could be an old t-shirt or old sweat pants. Also old socks will keep your hands warm. Some runners will even wear a t-shirt for the first couple miles of the race until they warm up and then pull it off and throw it away. This is a good strategy to prepare for all temperatures.
Take a bottle with gatorade/sports drink to the start with you and right before (less than 5 mins) the gun goes off drink 4-8 ounces. This is your first water stop. If you drink close enough to the start you shouldn’t have to pee – the fluid should only drip through your kidneys because most of your resources (blood) will be in your legs and out of your gut as soon as the gun goes off.
I suggest that you start 5-15 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace. By the 2nd mile you should be running at around goal pace while listening to your body. I recommend this approach as it may activate (and utilize) a higher percentage of fat fuel over the first couple miles. Remember we are trying to conserve glycogen and muscle for as long as possible.
Stay on top of hydration. Drink early and often (4-8 ounces every 20 minutes). It is better to consume enough fluid early and sacrifice the later stops if necessary.
Remember the 3 ‘C’s’
Confidence: Have confidence in your ability and your training. Remember all those hard workouts you did. Remember those early mornings, late nights, sore calves, tight hamstrings etc. - they weren’t in jest.
Control: You must relax yourself early in the race. You absolutely must go out under control and run easy for the first 8-10 miles. Remember the 1/2 Marathon is evenly divided into three sections of equal effort: first 5M, second 5M and last 5K. We want to save a little bit for the last 5K (Miles 10-13).
Collection: Keep your thoughts collected and on your objective. There will always be lots of distractions on race day. The further you get in this race the more you need to focus on yourself, goals and race strategy. Don’t let the fans and competitors into your zone.
The Ebb and Flow
I said before that I can’t guarantee anything about the training or the race itself. Well, I can guarantee this: you will feel good at some point and you will feel bad at some point within the race.
Races usually ebb and flow, runners rarely feel terrific the entire way. We always hit little walls. If you hit one just focus on the next mile, don’t think about the end of the race. If you take each difficult moment one mile at a time you will usually feel better at some point. It always comes back because. . .
You Always Have One Cup Left
That’s right – you always have one cup of energy left. The difference is that some people find it and some don’t. Remember what normal, untrained people do when they feel discomfort – they slow down and feel better. You are not a normal un-trained person.
You are a runnining machine!
You are programmed to give your personal best so. . .Go get that last cup!
Whenever possible, pick up your bib number, timing chip, and goody bag the day before the race. This way, you won't have to worry about rushing to get it on the morning of the race. (Added bonus - you will be more likely to get your desired race T-shirt size if you pick it up early!)
Once you have your bib number, pin it to the front of the shirt you will wear on race day. (Don't pin it to the back). Most races will have boxes of safety pins for your use. Take four so that you can fasten all 4 corners.
Dressing The Part
For race attire, consider some "throw away" warmups for the start. These will protect you from the elements if it is cold or rainy. Old socks can come in handy for keeping your hands warm. Some runners will even wear the t-shirt for the first couple miles of the race until they warm up and then pull it off and throw it away. This is a good strategy to prepare for all temperatures.
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