Marathon Training Tip #15: Get Race Day Ready

Preparing for a big race can be very
stressful. Here are a few things you can do during your training and leading up
to race morning to minimize stress and help you arrive at the start line with confidence
and ease.

the course.

Study the race course and elevation
chart.  If you are local, try to
incorporate parts of the course during your normal training runs.  If you are travelling for the race, try to at
least drive over the course before race day. 
Visualize yourself out there and come up with a plan of how to tackle
the distance.
Check out the video below for Cape Cod
Marathon specific race strategies…

pre-run meals.

Training is the time to experiment with
your food choices.  Before your long
runs, simulate race morning.  See what
time your race starts and practice running at that time.  (The
Cape Cod Half starts at 7:30am, the Cape Cod Marathon starts at 8:30am!)
  Every runner is different.  How early do you need to eat before your
run?  Can you drink coffee before your
run?  If you are staying in a hotel the
night before your race, see what the hotel has to offer in terms of  breakfast—and how early breakfast opens
up—and plan ahead if you need to bring your own meal.  Learn what works best for you and then
continue to practice the same habits during training and then again on race

your race nutrition and fueling strategies.

Almost as important as your pre-run meal
is the fuel you take during your runs. 
If you are training for a 5k and possibly even a 10k, you won’t have to
worry about fueling during your race.  If
you are training for a half marathon or full marathon, this is a very important
Step 1: Do your research.
Find out what companies are sponsoring
the race.  (The Cape Cod Marathon is sponsored by CLIF with Fuel Stops at mile
9.25 for the half and mile 21 for the full. 
Each water stop offers both water and Gatorade.) 
You have 2 options—either train with what
will be out on the course on race morning or bring your own.  Trying something new could lead to
porta-potty stops mid-race!
Step 2: Read labels.
Check the serving size.  Some packages contain 1-2 servings.  For a half, you will probably want 2
servings.  For the marathon, 4
servings.  Also check the caffeine count
on the labels.  Some have no caffeine,
some have 2x caffeine.  Caffeine can
affect your performance in a positive or negative way.  Again, see what works best for you and stick
with it.
Step 3: Figure out WHEN you need fuel.
I have always stuck with the theory on
the GU packages—15 before every 45.  I
start around mile 3 and fuel every 45 minutes after that.  I personally could never get through 26.2
miles by only taking fuel at the mile 21. 
It takes about 15 minutes for your body to start feeling the effects of
your fuel so don’t wait until it’s too late. 
Plan ahead and keep your body and your muscles happy.

rely on the expo for new gear or race nutrition.

Race expos can be fun.  Many big races have a lot of different
vendors giving away free stuff and sampling products but don’t rely on the expo
for your race day essentials.  What if
you were planning to buy your race fuel at the expo and they are sold out?  Minimize the stress and come prepared.  Plus you’ll spend way more time on your feet
walking around trying to find what you need when you should be resting for the
big day!  It’s also never a good idea to
buy new shoes or gear right before a race.
On a similar note, if you are flying to
a destination race, plan to carry on your important items.  You just never know!

a dress rehearsal.

Decide what you plan to wear on race
morning ahead of time and do a dress rehearsal. 
Discover all the little nuisances that may affect your performance on
race day like if your shorts ride up or if your sports bra is rubbing.  Make sure you have a good two to three
weekend of running in new shoes before a race. 
If you race in flats, wear them a few times before your race.  New or unfamiliar shoes on race day could
lead to blisters and/or random aches, pains or strains.

everything out the night before your race.

Try everything on and lay everything out
the night before your race.  In big on to
do lists so I make a checklist.  Shoes,
socks, shorts, sports bra, shirt, deodorant, Body Glide, GPS watch, Road ID,
hair tie, bobby pins, sunglasses, race number, safety pins, fuel, breakfast,
etc.  Preparation means less stress when
your alarm goes off.

throwaways to the start.

It’s so important to not only warm up
but also to stay way before your race.  Depending
on the size of the race, you may spend a lot of time waiting around in the
start corrals.  Cold, tense muscles can
cramp up and increase your chances of injury. 
Wear “throwaways” that you don’t mind leaving at the start line and keep
them on as long as you possibly can. 
Don’t have anything you want to part with?  Stop by a thrift shop for some cheap
sweats.  Many of the bigger races will
even collect clothes left at the start and donate to charity.

a deep breath.

You got this.  Good luck out there!  Happy running!
Blog post by Jen Skiba.

Coach Jen Skiba

Jen began her running career as a
middle-distance runner for Falmouth High School and has been involved with the sport
for over 12 years as a runner, official, race management, and coach.  A Mashpee Fitness trainer and Certified
Running Coach through the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA), Jen enjoys
working with runners in the gym and on the roads. “Whether you are a beginner
looking to get started running or at the intermediate level hoping to improve
your times or tackle new distances, I can help you reach your goals!”