You’ve put in countless hours, miles, and days to get ready for your race. The race is now here, and you are prepared to PR. Many runners have made a mistake on race day that causes them a personal best.
Here are a few tips for race day:
1) Leading up to the race, eat boring food
Make sure to eat food you would typically eat the night before a race. Don’t try anything new. The right kind of food and hydration will make all of the difference in your race. A bad meal the night before is enough to ruin a race.
2) Similarly, stay hydrated
Don’t forget to hydrate before, during, and after the race. Staying hydrated especially in hot weather is essential.
3) Have your race day planned
Know what time you are waking up, leaving and getting to the race start. How much would it stink to miss the start because you weren’t planned? For big races, I recommend writing a checklist of everything you will need.
You might have seen the rise of “flat runners” on Instagram, but laying all your gear out the night before is a great way to not miss anything.
4) Know the course
Just because you “think” it’s going to be flat and fast doesn’t mean it will be. Make sure you have a sense of where hills, aid stations, and the general course are. If you can run the course a few weeks beforehand, that is a bonus. Another idea is to drive the course the night before, that way it is fresh in your head.
5) Wear proper race attire
Don’t be a fashion hero. Remember this year in Boston when many people dropped out due to hypothermia? Many runners were not dressed appropriately for the weather. If it’s a torrential downpour, windy, or cold, wear extra layers.
6) Don’t try new gear
If you buy something at the expo, save it for later to wear. You might find midway through the race that it causes blisters or pain. Never, I repeat never, wear new race shoes. Many injuries are caused that way.
7) Don’t go out too fast
We’ve all been there! The race starts, and your adrenaline is high. You shoot out at a pace that is an entire minute faster than you should be. Then, it hits, the wall and you are only at mile 2. Make sure to run your own race.
It feels much better to catch people at mile 10, than to truck along because you bonked at mile 2. If you stick to your race plan and run the pace you‘ve been training at, you’ll have a great race.
8) Stay focused on the race
Don’t forget you are running a race. This seems silly but sometimes in the later miles, when you are running along, it can be hard to stay genuinely engaged. For me, the hardest mile is mile 11. I tell myself to get through mile 11, and I will be almost done. Some people even have a mantra they repeat to themselves.
A half marathon is a long distance, and anything can happen. It might be possible you go through a hard section. Remain positive and don’t panic. It’s easier said than done, I know. Try to focus on where you are in the race, not how long you have to go. Some people choose to rely on the crowd support.
9) Finally and most importantly: Enjoy it!
Running should be lifelong, and one race should never make or break you. Your goal race is months of training. You have worked hard to be there, so have fun!