Congratulations! You are already ahead of the pack by setting out do something outside your comfort zone. This race is an opportunity to get stronger while enjoying the path to the finish line. In addition to the physical prep you need to conquer the course, your head needs to be in it to win it as well. Here are 10 tips for getting yourself ready for race day.
1. Visualization. Mark the race day on your calendar so you can physically see the timeline leading up to the race. This makes it easier to see exactly how much time you have to get ready.
2. Research. It is essential to find the best plan that works for your body, your goals and your schedule. There are many sample schedules online, such as ACE’s 5k and half marathon training programs. Do your homework and cross-reference a few that sound appealing to you. The best schedule will be the one you can realistically follow.
3. Gear. Make sure you have the right sneakers AND socks for your training, both of which can play a huge role in your race, especially if you are training for a full marathon. And don’t neglect the issue of chafing—buy an appropriate product like BodyGlide Anti-chafe and use it on your chest, thighs and under your arms. Just make sure you do this early on in your training.
4. Nutrition. Choosing the right foods can be tricky. While fiber is good for you, it’s not a good choice right before you pound the pavement. High-fiber foods can cause digestive distress, so choose quick-absorbing carbs such as toast with almond butter and banana or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If you’re Paleo or grain-free, scrambled eggs and a little sweet potato are a good option. Avoid apples, pears and dates pre-run, as they can cause cramping. Dairy is another question mark. Some runners can consume a little bowl of cereal with skim milk before a run without any problems, but dairy can induce discomfort in others. Just make sure you use your training to experiment with what works and what doesn’t, so you can make the right choice on race day.
5. Fueling. Depending on the length of your race, you may need to look into some of fueling options such as gel blocks, GU packs or Gatorade. If you are running for less than an hour, you most likely won’t need any fueling, but be mindful of your water intake. Keep it to small sips only, as gulps are no good for your gut. And, of course, make sure you are well hydrated before the race begins.
6. Support. Surround yourself with family, friends and colleagues who are excited for you and want you to reach your goals. Recruit a running buddy, join a running club or even just hang out with those who keep you inspired.
7. Social Media. Instagram and Facebook offer a multitude of options for keeping your motivation levels high. Also, sharing your goals and accomplishments can help keep you on track to keep up the good work.
8. Sleep. Sleeping is an essential part of your training. Make it a priority and schedule your sleep just as you would a run.
9. Game Time. The night before the race, don’t do anything out of the ordinary, including eating a massive bowl of pasta. That extreme concept of “carb-loading” is not the way to do it. Instead, have some extra carbs the morning before (such as oatmeal, quinoa or sweet potato) and focus on hydrating and resting. Lay out all the gear you need the night before your race: race bib, layers, snacks, keys, ID, etc. This will help give you some peace of mind and make for a more restful night’s sleep.
10. ENJOY! This is perhaps the most important part of ALL of your training. You have set a goal and enjoyed the process of achieving it. You should feel great about what you have done—you are officially a runner and an inspiration to others.