1) Hydrate: Hydration is one of those things that slip under the radar. In college, our trainer would make us drink 4 ‘Nalgene’ bottles for the 3 days leading up to a race. Honestly, I choked down 3 as I personally found it difficult to drink that much. I often mixed it up and drank 1 bottle full of water, 1 full of Gatorade, etc. I personally love one with a straw so this one was great for me.
2) Take it easy: The week of your big race is probably not the best time to go hike your favorite mountain. Nor is it the best time to go an extra 12 miler because you are freaking out that you have not trained enough. Like I said, ‘the hay is in the barn’. No amount of miles you put yourself through days before the race are going to help. Put your feet up, go on a few shake outs (1-2 milers) just to keep your legs fresh but don’t bother in venturing on a long run as it will likely catch up to you come race day.
3) Know the Course: Simple surprises like a hill can break your spirit on race day. Especially if it comes up when you’re hitting a wall anyway. Get on your marathon website and look at the course. Take special notice of your altitude map they provide. Prepare your mind now for long stretches, or hills that might throw you off your groove.
4) Break It Up: While studying the course map, break it up into sections (or if you’re doing a half, break it up into smaller segments). To see how I break up a marathon see my previous post on ‘Breaking Down the Wall‘.
5) Rest Up: Runners say that it’s the sleep that occurs two nights before your race that effects performance. So if you race on Saturday, it is Thursday nights rest that makes all the difference. So rest up and prepare for your big race!
6) Prepare: The night before the race, lay out everything you need. Pin your number on your shirt or tank top. My first marathon, I got on the jammed packed bus and found my brother in law laughing hysterically at me. When I looked down, I noticed my tank top was inside out with the built in bra on the outside! (The pre-race nerves really get to me! :))
7) Check the Forecast: Most spring to early summer marathons start with temperatures below 50 degrees. If you’re in Utah or Colorado most races start between 30 and 40 degrees. Dress warm! The 10 fire pits they have for 4000 people never seem to do the trick for me. I run down to the thrift store a few days before the race and pick up an old sweatshirt and gloves that I can throw off at an aid station. This is great because I don’t have to worry about finding them later in the piles of clothes at the end. Remember, you can always take things off, but you can’t put things back on when you don’t have them.
8) Lube Up!!!: Nothing is worse then chafing during a race. Make sure to get somebody Glide and slap it on those unmentionable areas (the inner thigh, your bra line, between the boobies, between the butt cheeks and on the inside of your upper arms (where your arm swing back and forth against your tank top or bra)). I use white deodorant and rub it on all those places. I like arm and hammer and I use it generously. Other people like butt paste, Vaseline, Desitin, etc. If you find yourself chaffing at mile 16 yell for it at an aid station. They usually stock it pretty well.
9) Band Aids People!!!: These are not just for men!!! But if you are a man don’t forget to put these on your nipples. Other wise, you’ll get a taste of what your wife feels like when she starts nursing a baby! On my second baby, my belly button switched permanently from an ‘innie’ to an ‘outie’. I did not put a band aid on it for the St. George Marathon and it was pretty bloody after. Nasty, I know, let me spare you the pain. If you forget them come race day, find a medical personnel and they’ll hook you up.
10) Enjoy the Opportunity: How many people are out there that don’t have the ability or drive to do what you are doing. Take pride in your race! Take pride in how fast you run it, NO MATTER HOW FAST YOU RUN! When you finish it you are already ahead of 90% of the population! Go Get ’em!