After months of training, race week is finally here. At this point all the work is done and it’s time to reap the rewards of months of training. Below are eight final tips to increase your chances of race day success.
Should I warm up? This depends on your ability level. If you’re a beginner with a goal of finishing the race, then some light dynamic stretching should be enough. If you’re a more experienced runner chasing a personal best, then jogging for five to ten minutes with some drills and four light pickups 35 minutes before start time should be good.
Be sure to lie out everything you’ll need on race day the night before. This will save you from rushing on the morning of the race. This includes pinning your bib on your shirt/singlet and packing your fuel, hydration, and anything else you may need on race day.
Check the current forecast. If it's calling for a chilly start on race morning layer up and strip off clothing as the race goes on. Wear extra clothing that you’re willing to throw away in order to stay warm while in your corral.
Get good sleep this week. The most important nights of sleep are Thursday and Friday. Be sure to get at least 8 hours and aim to wake up close to the time you would on race day, if possible.
Top off your energy stores. This means eating high quality complex carbs this week. For complete restoration of carbohydrate stores eat 8 to 12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram (3.6 to 5.4 grams per pound). It’s important to get a solid breakfast of complex carbs on race morning. Timing will vary depending on the individual, however I’ll usually go for a full breakfast of oatmeal, a banana and coffee three to four hours before the race starts.
It’s not uncommon to have difficult periods during the marathon or even have multiple difficult periods. It’s important to acknowledge that this may happen and not freak out if you’re experiencing one early on. If one happens, try to relax and stay calm until it passes.
Have a realistic plan, but also be willing to alter it if needed. Reflect on how your training went. Did you hit all your long runs? I always say it’s best to be cautious for the first half of the marathon. Running the second half faster than the first has set most of all the world records.
Mentally break the race down into chucks. I recommend three separate chucks of 1 to 15, 16 to 21 and 21 to the finish. Read this for more.
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