If you’re getting ready to run your first long distance race, there are a few things you should know. Maybe you’re a pro and already prepped, but for my first half marathon, I hadn’t run a registered 5K, 10K or 15K in over five years! True story.
So if you’re a newbie (like we all once were once), it’s helpful to have a friend or seasoned veteran (can I consider myself that now? How cool!) give you some insider tips on making it the best run you can. Here is my pre-race checklist:
1. Don’t do any strenuous workouts two to three days prior to the race.
Let your body rest. The hard work is already done!
2. Carb load the night before.
This is the BEST part of the run! Live it up the night before, you earned it. My friends and I love to find a good Italian restaurant and go for chicken parm with spaghetti. Protein and carbs for days!
3. Get sleep.
Sometimes it’s hard to sleep the night before a race, but try to turn in early—at the very least, turn the phone off and read a book or magazine.
4. Don’t rush in the AM
Be sure to get up a little early and leave enough time to prep for the race.
5. Lay out your clothes.
By now you will know what you love to run in, so have your outfit ready to go so you’re not scrambling with one-eye open in the am.
6. Have your morning coffee!
You want to “clean out your system” before you hit the race—trust me!
7. Eat something.
Even if you’re not a morning eater, it’s important to get something in your system to give you power. Leading up to the race, test yourself to see what you body reacts to best—you don’t want to down a huge yogurt or egg sandwich moments before your big race only to have a stomach ache on mile 4.
8. Have your gear ready.
Are your wireless headphones charged? Your fitbit? Your phone?
9. Do you have Body Glide sticks?
Vaseline? No chafing allowed. Bonus Tip: put some glide on your toes! If it rains and your shoes and feet get wet you’ll thank me when your toes don’t rub and blister.
10. Have your music ready.
Nothing is worse than not having a playlist. Have a back up, too. My fave: FIT radio as a backup or a way to mix it up mid-race if I need a boost. (It can be set on pace so will keep you on those 10- or 9-minute miles!).
11. Know the course.
Study where the water and gels/gummies will be passed out so you know when to expect it. Or the port-o-johns if you need them. You’re also going to want to know when the hills are coming. Surprise hills are zero fun.
I can’t run without them but you’ll want lightweight ones. Personally my favorites to run in are love Nectars.
13. Keep your hair in check.
Nothing can be more annoying and even slow you down more than a flopping ponytail. I personally love pigtail braids that stay low and close to your head.
14. Plan your transportation in advance
Know how you’re getting to the race and how long it will take. You don’t want to be standing around waiting with anxiety and you of course don’t want to be late. Take into effect closed off roads—do you need to schedule an Uber? Can you take public transportation or walk? Do do you know where parking is?
15. Warm up!
While you’re waiting, stretch. The last thing you want is a stiff or pulled muscle in the first mile (trust me, I’ve had it happen)! Many races will have you standing and waiting for a little at the start, use it to stay limber and move and pump up.
There you go! Of course you’ll have to do the training to get there, but I hope this tips help take away the anxiety and uncertainties around race day. You’ve got this!