Whether you’re a first-time runner or seasoned marathon runner, when it comes to race week, you want to be prepared either way. The following five race-week tips are simple reminders of things to be aware of to ensure you have the best marathon or half marathon experience.
1. Calm pre-race nerves.
Relax! Pre-race nervousness will get you nowhere. You need as much mental energy as physical energy to propel yourself to the finish line of a marathon or half marathon, so don’t waste any time worrying about and questioning your training. Be confident that you are ready to roll, 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 offset pre-race energy anxiety.
2. Hydrate throughout race week.
Drink water regularly. Chugging a gallon of water on race morning isn’t going to help matters much if you haven’t been hydrating properly in the days prior to the event. Keep a bottle of water or sports drink within arm’s reach during the days before the race, and sip from it several times an hour. If you’re peeing regularly, you’re doing hydration right. It can take the better part of a week to hydrate properly, so make sure to fill your tank well ahead of time.
3. Rise and shine!
Practice waking up early. If you’re not an early bird already, learn to be one before experiencing a rude awakening on race morning. Since you’ll probably be running around 7 a.m. or much earlier for marathon runners on race day (but earlier for everybody if you want to beat the traffic and porta-potty lines), you’ll want to experience what it’s like to be out of bed well before the break of dawn. The last thing you want on race day is to be rushing around with seconds to spare or to be shut out of your assigned corral, so give yourself plenty of time to wake up, dress, eat and get to the starting line.
4. Check off your race-day gear list.
Make a list. Check it twice. Make a list of race-day essentials (shoes, shorts, singlet, socks, hydration belt, gels, race bib), and keep these items on or close to you at all times. If traveling to the race from out of town, pack the important stuff in your carry-on luggage in the event that your checked bag gets lost. You’ll be fine if you lose your favorite slippers or misplace your shaving kit, but you’re nothing without your running shoes.
5. Enjoy the expo — but not too much.
The race expo is a great experience, but spending too much time on your feet the day before your big race isn’t the soundest strategy for success. If your marathon or half marathon is on Sunday, try to get into town on Friday and enjoy the full expo experience. If Saturday is your only option before a Sunday race, grab your race packet, scope out the expo scene for a short time, and then get off your feet and relax for the rest of the day.