Sunday, May 8, 2016

10 Tips to Surviving the Week Before Your First Half Marathon

So you're running your first half marathon.  Good for you for being only half crazy!  Ideally, you've put in some serious training over the last 3-4 months and you've followed your training plan to a T or modified it so it fits you to a T whichever the case may be.  Below on some last minute tips to help you survive the final week before the big day.

1.  Hydrate!

Aim for a gallon of water a day.  If you're worried about being up all night to use the bathroom then guzzle most of your water in the morning hours.  Add some Nuun Hydration Tablets so you get the electrolytes without the sugar.

2.  Check your gear. 

Make sure everything is in working order.  Ideally, everything you are using come race day has been broken in so there are no surprises.

3.  Pick Your Mantras.

You will be chanting them in your head, or out loud like a crazy person, when the going gets tough.  

4.  Set Your Playlist

The right music can inspire and motivate you right when you need it most.  Some of my favorite running songs are:

  • Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
  • Can't Stop Me Now - Queen
  • I'm Shipping Up to Boston - Dropkick Murphy's 
  • Let's Go Crazy - Prince
  • Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
  • Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses
  • Stronger - Kanye West
  • Work Bitch - Brittany Spears 

5.  Clip Your Toe Nails

This one should be a no brainer.  No one likes bloody socks during a race.  Clip those talons.  

6.  Protein Up!

The week before your big race your nutrition needs to be on point.  Ideally, you've been doing this all along with your training so there are no surprises on the big day that lands you in the long porta-potty lines doing a crazy dance.  Protein is important because it helps build and repair muscles.  Carbs are great for a quick burst of energy, but red meat will deliver the nutrients your body needs to feed those muscles that are deep down inside.  While your at it, add an egg a day, I prefer hard boiled, to clean out your liver.

7.  Rest

This is probably the most important step.  Don't overdue it.  You don't want to risk an injury or deplete yourself this close to reaching your goal.

8.  Make a Mental Plan

Think about how you are going to pace yourself.  Research and plan which water stops you are going to stop at and which ones you might even want to walk through.  For longer races, water stops often include fuel like Honey Stinger Chews.  It's a good idea to know which ones those are so you aren't making any unplanned stops and in the process add valuable seconds to your finish time.  

9.  Stick to Your Plan

This one goes back to #7.  Run when your plan says run, rest when it says rest and cross-train when it says, well you get the idea.  The last week before your race is not the time to start adding in extra runs.  

10.  Pack Your Bags

Dress rehearsal time!  Make sure you've picked out what you are going to wear from your socks to your headphones and that you have some experience using them.  Again, to avoid surprises on race day everything on your body should have been worn before.  

Put everything you are going to need for race day into your bag.  Pack extras!  For women, I suggest packing a few extra hair ties in case they break because who wants to deal with a sweaty mess of hair while you are trying to focus on your form?  After my 10 miler I had packed flip flops and my feet were so thankful especially since we had an hour car drive home.  

If you have any other tips to add, please share them below!  I've found that the best advice comes from other runner's mishaps because  it's the little things, like hair ties, that can make or break a race for you.