Saturday, September 27, 2014

What to do the Week Before Your Half Marathon


Hi Everyone! It's finally here--race week for the Wineglass Half Marathon! I am super excited to be running this race again :)


With fall race season in full swing, you may find yourself also staring down race week. You might be a bit nervous, but probably a whole lot excited. You may also be wondering how you can use this week to best prepare yourself for your upcoming race. This will be my 7th half marathon, and along the way I've learned a few key tips to make the most of race week. Today I will share them with you all :)

Tapering

One of the biggest things to remember about race week is that you are not going to gain any fitness in the week leading up to your race that will aid you during it; but you can certainly tire yourself out. For a half marathon you should be tapering 1-2 weeks out from your race. Beginner runners may find that a two-week taper works well. Since I'm training for the Philadelphia Marathon in November and I've included the Wineglass Half Marathon as part of my training plan, I am doing a one-week taper. My last long run, which will be run exactly one week from race day, is only 10 miles. During this week you should cut back on your overall mileage. Here's a look at my race week training plan (Note: You can't see my long run on here because of how the calendar is laid out).

Race Week Training Plan

As Nick likes to point out, I will probably be bouncing off the walls with excess energy this week since my mileage is so low. 

It is important to remember that no two runners are the same, and that what works for one person might not work for you. Do what feels right. Work hard. But don't tire yourself out. You've put too much into your training to not be 100% on race morning :)

Hydration

Another key item to remember this week is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. At minimum, you need 64 oz of water each day; but if you're running or exercising you need more. 

Nutrition

It is a good idea to plan your daily nutrition out for the week leading up to your race. You can begin carb loading up to five days prior to the race, although the most important time to eat a carb heavy meal is two days before the race. This gives your body an appropriate amount of time to store the energy. Something to keep in mind when planning out your meals is to not try anything drastic. Stick to foods you know your body handles well. Your race week mantra should be "no surprises". 

Here is what I'm planning to eat the days leading up to my race. I am kind of boring with my food and tend to eat a lot of the same things every day :) Again, do what works best for you and your body. 

Friday

Breakfast: Granola cereal with milk and some fruit

Lunch: Turkey sandwich

Dinner: Spaghetti and salad

Saturday

Breakfast: Granola cereal with milk and some fruit

Lunch: Unstuffed peppers (contains green bell peppers, onion, basamati rice, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese)

Dinner: Turkey sandwich and salad

Sunday Race Day

Breakfast: Granola cereal with milk, banana, 1/2 bagel with peanut butter, and maybe some other assorted fruit.

Make a List

And check it twice or three times. I am incredibly Type A. I make lists for everything. It is no different when it comes to my race weekend packing list. There will most likely be a lot on your mind the day you travel to your race destination. You don't want to forget something critical like your running shoes, GPS watch, or your lucky socks. I recommend making a list of every single race related item you need, including any specific food you're planning to take along. 

Weather

You should begin watching the weather as soon as it's listed in the extended forecast. Start thinking about what you plan to wear based on the weather. It's important to remember that our trusty weathermen are making their best prediction, but things could change. Be prepared for all types of weather conditions. I always take one long sleeve running top, one short sleeve running top, and one running tank top (or variation of those depending on the time of the year). Check the temperature for the hours leading up to the start of the race. It can be chilly while waiting at the start line, and you might not want to wear long sleeves once you start running. A good suggestion is to take an old sweatshirt that you don't mind being donated. You can leave it at the start line because you'll warm up quickly once you start moving. Other options to help keep warm at the start line are to wear a poncho, space blanket from a previous race, or a trash bag.

At the Disney World Half Marathon

A few other tidbits to keep in mind during race week:

-Try to get enough sleep during the week so you feel fresh race morning. You might not be able to sleep the night before your race. That's ok, and it's common. Make sure to do something relaxing though. Lay in bed and read, prop your feet up, whatever it is that will keep your body in relaxation mode even if your mind is super excited for the next day.

-Lay out all your clothes and gear the night before.

-Speaking of clothes.. it's not a good idea to try a brand new outfit during your race. No one will know that you wore it for a training run. Promise :)

-Don't forget to charge your GPS watch!

-Visualize yourself kicking some major asphalt (pun intended)! :) If you think positive thoughts you're more likely to succeed. 


The absolute most important thing to remember is to HAVE FUN. As the saying goes, it's not about the destination it's about the journey. Take in all the sights, talk with other runners, thank the volunteers, take pictures (or make sure to hop in front of the professional photographers on the course). You've worked hard for this. Enjoy every second-- the easy ones and the hard ones. You'll come out the other side a much stronger individual-- body, mind, and soul.  

I want to hear all about your race experience. Did these race week tips help? Do you have other tips that aren't listed here? I'd love to hear them! Please feel free to share in the comments :)