Hurray! It’s race week. After 17 weeks of training it all comes down to the big day. Hopefully you have made it through training with little or no injuries, or you’ve taken some time off to recover. Remember to get lots of sleep this week, start carb-loading by Wednesday evening, make healthy eating choices, and drink lots of water. If this is your first marathon, or if you’re a veteran, here are some important tips for race day:
- Wake up early. At least 3 hours before the race so you can hydrate, have breakfast, and arrive at the start line without being rushed. Suggested breakfast: 1 cup of oatmeal with honey, banana, and a 30 oz sports drink.
- Wear your training gear! Remember, don’t try anything new race day. Wear the same shirt, shorts, socks and shoes that you wore during your training on race day. Remember to use lots of Body Glide.
- Make sure you have your timing chip on your shoe and your race bib on your shirt before you leave the house. Also make sure you bring your ID, medical card, $20 cash / credit card, hydration belt, and nutrition.
- Arrive at the marathon start area one hour early. Go to your corral and gear check 30 minutes before start time. Use the washroom. Be ready and in position 5 minutes before start time.
- Focus on your goal. Set three goals: to cross the finish line, the time you tell your friends that you expect to finish, and your whisper time. Your whisper time if the time you quietly tell yourself as you approach the start line.
- Listen to your body. It will tell you when it needs nutrition, hydration, when you need to slow down, or when you can speed up. If the pain becomes unbearable, take a walk-break, but keep going. You may need to stretch along the route, especially if it’s a hot day and you become dehydrated.
- Start off slowly. Most runners make the costly mistake of leaving the start line too quickly. This causes burn-out early in the race. Check your pace 1km into the course; you should be at your exact pace time, otherwise, adjust your speed.
- Take your walk breaks. If you trained with 10:1 or 20:1 walk-breaks, use them on race day too. Again, nothing changes race day. It’s like any other training run, except today you get a medal at the end of your run.
- Take advantage of hydration and nutrition stations. Get a drink and fuel your body. 42.2km is a long ways to go and your body needs the energy to get there. Once depleted, it’s almost impossible to boost energy or hydration levels mid-race, so stay on top of it.
- Upright and standing! Remember, as you approach the finish line to give your biggest smile and throw your arms above your head. You want to show the crowd you are a confident marathon runner and to have a photo finish that you can treasure for the rest of your life. Don’t worry about stopping your pace-watch – do that when they are putting the medal around your neck.
After you’ve crossed the finish line, keep walking, catch your breath, and get a drink of water. Take a moment to recall the great moments of your race. Enjoy the time of being together with other marathoners, friends, family, race organizers and volunteers. Celebrate your success and proudly wear your medal the entire day!