1. Have a plan.
Set several goals for race day! Have “dream” goal that you can achieve if everything goes perfectly (weather and stomach cooperation). Have a back-up goal that will still make you happy, and have a goal that you know you can achieve no matter what.
Plan check-ins along the way where you will assess yourself periodically. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself for things to go accordingly from the start, the first several miles are always a little chaotic. Just remember not to start too fast!
2. Practice race day nutrition and hydration.
Yes, I realize the irony of captioning a turtle in a running meme 🙂 Sometimes I feel like a turtle!
For the Portland Marathon I will be carrying 3 gels with me to avoid bonking like I did in Newport (where I ran on fumes, no pre-race fuel and no fuel along the way). I haven’t figured out how I will pass through an aid station, grab a cup of water, and attempt to down a gel in one smooth move. So on my 14 miler this morning I attempted to simulate this and I ended up ripping the gel open with my teeth, and trying to smash all the liquid into my mouth at once while gulping water from a bottle in my other hand. I ended up like the turtle. It worked, and I didn’t suffer any stomach distress…but it definitely wasn’t optimal!
So practice, practice, practice people! I’m not very good about heeding my own advice here.
3. Dress-rehearse your race day outfit.
For your last several long runs, it is useful to wear EXACTLY what you plan to race in, even down to your underwear. This way you can identify any potential wardrobe malfunctions that might pop up (ahem…chafing). If your shoes are wearing out, I recommend replacing them at least 2 weeks before your race. It’s most important to do a dress rehearsal a week or two before your race, and run at the same time of day as your race so you can simulate the weather conditions and plan accordingly. If you are travelling to a race in a completely different climate, this can be tricky. But I’ve learned from experience to at least give yourself 3 days to acclimate!
4. Grease up!
Any runner knows, chafing is no joke! Prevention is key here, better to be safe than sorry!
5. Set two alarm clocks.
Two alarms, and a wake up call! Even if you are really good about not oversleeping, set multiple alarms just in case. If nothing else, it helps ease your anxiety about the upcoming race. At least you know you’ll wake up on time.
If you can’t sleep the night before, don’t worry. It’s actually the sleep you get several days before that counts. Even if you don’t sleep a wink (which you will, don’t worry) at least you will be resting your legs in bed. So relax, and don’t try to go to bed ridiculously early….it doesn’t work!
6. Keep moving forward in the direction of the finish line.
This is my number one tip to guarantee that you will cross the finish line. No matter how slowly you go, as long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other you will finish. It may not be pretty, but at least you will have succeeded! In the grand scheme of things, you still will have just ran 26 miles! That’s a huge accomplishment! You’re awesome 🙂
7. Enjoy the ride.
26.2 miles is a long way to go, don’t make it harder than it needs to be!
*I went a little meme crazy here…I generated all these based on my thoughts and running experience! I hope they’re a little funny!
“I just felt like running.” -Forrest Gump (My favorite movie!)