Whether you’re a first-time runner or an experienced marathon runner, when it comes to race week, you’ll want to be prepared either way. The following five race week tips are simple reminders of the things to be aware of to ensure you get the best marathon or half marathon experience.
1. Calm the nerves before the race
Relax! The stress before the race won’t get you anywhere. You need as much mental energy as physical energy to push yourself to the finish line in a marathon or half marathon, so don’t waste any time worrying and questioning your training. Be confident you’re ready to go, and take your mind off the upcoming race with a book, movie, or other non-running related activity. Take a walk, meditate, or get together with friends as a way to beat energy anxiety before a race.
2. Hydrate throughout the race week
Drink water regularly. Drinking a gallon of water on the morning of the race won’t help much if you haven’t been properly hydrated in the days leading up to the event. Keep a bottle of water or a sports drink handy during the days leading up to the race, and drink from it a few times an hour. If you urinate regularly, you are hydrating properly. It can take the better part of a week to properly hydrate, so be sure to fill the tub well ahead of time.
3. Get up and shine!
Practice getting up early. If you’re not an early bird already, learn to be one before experiencing the rude awakening of the race morning. Since you’ll most likely be running around 7 a.m. or earlier for marathon runners on race day (but earlier for everyone if you want to beat traffic and entrance lines), you’ll want to experience what it’s like to get out of bed before dawn breaks. The last thing you want on race day is to be fast with seconds to spare or lock out of your pit, so give yourself plenty of time to get up, get dressed, eat, and get to the starting line.
4. Check out the gear list on race day.
Make a list. Check it twice. Make a list of your race day essentials (shoes, shorts, jersey, socks, hydration belt, gels, and race bib), and keep these items on or near you at all times. If you’re traveling to the race from out of town, pack important items in your carry-on baggage in case your checked baggage gets lost. You’ll be fine if you lose your favorite slippers or lose your grooming kit, but you’ll do nothing without your running shoes.
5. Enjoy the show – but not too much
A race fair is a great experience, but spending a lot of time on your feet the day before your big race isn’t the best strategy for success. If the marathon or half marathon is on a Sunday, try to get into town on a Friday and enjoy the full fair experience. If Saturday is your only option before Sunday’s race, grab your race package, locate the fair for a little while, then get off your feet and relax for the rest of the day.