It’s fall racing season! I have a half marathon coming up this weekend, and another in about a month. Lots of my friends have been running half marathons and full marathons and doing so awesome! The KC Half Marathon this weekend will be my 11th half. I am not an expert by any means, but I have learned a fair deal about running half marathons, and these reminders are as much for me as for someone tackling their first half marathon!
1. Nothing new on race day! No new clothes, no new foods, no new pre-race rituals… nothing new! Practice what you’ve been using during training runs. And practice different things during training to see what works and what doesn’t.
2. Arrive to the race plenty early. Limit your race-day stress. Get to the race and parked with plenty of time to make your way to the start line, use the restroom, check your bag, and warm up.
3. Have extra safety pins, extra fuel, extra clothes. I will bring my closet with me to a race, I’ll have extra clothes for after the race, including sandals, but I’ll also have body glide, safety pins, extra gloves, extra gu, etc. Just. In. Case.
4. Have multiple goals. I always have a goal of trying to PR, of course. But some days, it just isn’t in the cards. It could be too hot, too cold, too windy, or my legs may feel extra heavy, or I may not have trained well enough. So I always have multiple goals. Goal 1: PR. Goal 2: secondary time goal, or other goal, such as running it all, etc. Goal 3: FINISH.
5. Start SLOW! It is so easy to get caught up in the race-start-excitement. Start slow, slower than you think, because you can’t bank time! Running slower conserves energy, then you can push it when you need to. On the contrary, if you start out too quickly, you risk burn out, and the second half of your race could be very painful.
6. Hydrate often. I take water/gatorade at every water stop. I might not drink it all, but I take it, even just for a sip. It’s important to not fall behind and be feeling super thirsty, because that can signal dehydration, plus you’ll be more apt to drink too much and then feel sick.
7. Run your race, run your pace. Just because someone else is running faster, slower, easier, etc, does not mean you need to stick with them or try to pass them. Run your own race. Everyone is out there for themselves, so don’t concern yourself with trying to “win,” because for almost everyone out there, it’s about completing the race and competing against yourself.
8. Stick to your fueling plan. Same as hydration, stick to your plan. You’ve (hopefully) been working with fuel on your long runs, so you should know how much fuel you need, and when.
9. Enjoy the run; run in the mile you’re in. If you’re having the race of your life, enjoy each mile and enjoy the run! If you’re having a rough race, stick to each mile, and focus on that mile only, to get you through.
10. Keep a steady effort up hills and down hills. Don’t worry about pace on the uphills, but keep your effort steady. That way, when you reach the top, you won’t be dead, and then you can coast on the downhill and make up some of the time. Keep your effort steady, and the pace will even itself out.
11. When you start to fatigue, think about why you started running, why you signed up for this race. When you want to walk, when you want to quit, think about why you started running, why you signed up for the race, and who you are running for. Use the support of others to push yourself through.
12. Smile when you see race photographers, cute kids, funny signs. Smile at everyone! The spectators, volunteers, and police are all out there for everyone running, so thank them, smile, and enjoy it all. Racing is something special, so definitely smile at everyone!
13. Run happy, this race is a celebration of all your hard work and training. Enjoy every step!
and 13.1 Sign up for your next race!
Do you have any tips and tricks for racing? Good luck to everyone racing this fall!!