i don’t know about you guys, but i get pretty pumped (or else totally psyched out and convinced i’m the worst runner ever, depending upon my sanity level that week) the few days leading up to a race. the NYC Half this Sunday, March 16, will be the 7th half i’ve done in the past 2+ years, and the first Manhattan race for me, so even though i’m probably a bit under-trained, i’m looking forward to enjoying this race. after i get out of Central Park aka the hills of death, that is.
every runner has their own journey of how she came to be a distance runner and why she fell in love with 13.1 or 26.2, and we all have our individual “race prep” routines and things we rely on to get us through these distances. here are some of my must-haves for running a half:
*don’t wear heels the week (or 2) before. i run on the balls of my feet in on-the-minimalist-side sneakers, so my calves are already prone to soreness. the only really painful injury i’ve had in the last few years was calf-related, and it was downright awful and excruciating, running or not. wearing heels the week before a race is one thing that surely will exacerbate the calf soreness and just makes zero sense to me. invest in some cute flats to flaunt around the work place (if you aren’t already a flats girl). because these might be cute, but they sure don’t help prep you for a run.
unless, of course, you plan to run in heels. then, by all means, go about your crazy life.
*water is your best friend…before and during the race. i drink a more-than-average amount of H2O as it is, but the week before, i’m a guzzler. i also probably Jedi mind trick myself into thinking i’m the thirstiest girl alive, because this week i’ve been convinced i’m parched 24/7 and can’t walk from one room to another without my water bottle or my throat might close up and i’ll die. so there’s always that. never hurts to hydrate as much as possible in the days leading up to a big race.
another thing i learned the hard way: drink during the race, even when you don’t want to. i got suuuuuper dehydrated after my first half, because i obviously needed to intake more water than i felt like i did. lesson learned: now i stop at every single water station and grab a cup, even if i don’t finish it. totally necessary for me.
*don’t change your eating habits. this might seem like common sense, but we all know people who suddenly start eating their body weight in carbs before a big race, when they don’t consume half that much carbs regularly. or those who suddenly decide that peanut butter is the best fuel and start putting it on everything, or that they need to overdose on bananas, or that sugar will surely give them energy. bottom line: if you don’t eat it regularly, don’t start ODing on it right before your race. your body knows what it’s used. (my choices for race-day morning fuel: banana or a healthy bar.) just make sure you fill up on healthy stuff…because cupcakes sure don’t make a girl run faster.
*find your fuel. gu, shot bloks, jelly beans, swedish fish — whatever your preference may be, make sure you figure that out prior to race day. i prefer Clif’s Shot Bloks but find a full blok too much to take at once, so i cut them into halves and put them in a little plastic baggie and stick that in my SPIbelt. it took me a few races to figure out what worked best for me, but this is my jam. the gu kinda makes me nauseous; these were just right.
*dress appropriately and comfortably. i have my fave few pairs of running capris (or shorts for summer races) that are staples, and i like to run races in compression socks. wearing new gear can be a mistake, as you might not like how it fits once you’re running in it for a while. be sure to test everything out on some long runs before wearing it to the big day.
*make a running playlist. you’re going to be out there for a while, so be picky and choose the songs that get you moving and make you love your life…because in case you have a moment or two during that race where you’re not exaaaactly loving life, music just might make a teensey difference. or at least serve as a welcome distraction. 🙂
*body glide. this will be your best friend. you should put it anywhere where clothes might rub against you (sports bra lines, inner thighs, on the insides of your arms, anywhere that suits your fancy). no further explanation needed. lifesaver.
*cut out the alcohol. drinking isn’t exactly conducive to staying healthy in the first place, so drinking the week or two before a big race makes zero sense. this is just my two cents, and i know everyone has their own opinions on this, but i generally don’t drink at all the week or two before i’m running. just an hour ago in our work cafeteria, some of the guys were asking about our St. Paddy’s day plans this weekend and declared me “completely insane” for running the NYC Half rather than day drinking all day every day. let’s compare our lifestyles and priorities, shall we? i think i win.
*think positively! you’ve trained for this. you’ve sweated and ached and pushed yourself to new limits for this. in the grand scheme of things, this is one race on one day your life, and it does not define you, so it’s nothing to cry over or bite your fingernails to shreds about. however, it is something to enjoy and be proud of, because in a couple of hours (or less!), you’ll be standing there with a medal around your neck and a heat shield across your shoulders and grinning from ear to ear and not even notice the hip pain and calf spasms and salt crystals all over your face. you will have raced your own race, and when you crossed that finish line, you will have won.
and instantly, you’ll want to do it again. (and again…and again…and again…)
thankfully, there are plenty more races where that one came from. 🙂
happy running, friends! xoxo
Questions: Have you run a half (or full) marathon? If so, what are some of your race preps or race-day musts?