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- Load up on the carbohydrates for dinner the night prior! Yep, the great blessing of being a runner is that you get to eat like a bear. I typically eat a cup and a half of any whole grain pasta w/marinara sauce, zucchini, squash, and carrots. Stay clear from broccoli, asparagus, and other gas-inducing vegetables.
- Prepare your clothes, running accessories (such as iPod, Garmin watch, etc.), and race bib all out on the couch or table.
- Stretch the night before! Don’t do anything strenuous, but just enough to get the muscles fluid and not stiff.
- Wake up more than 2-3 hours before the race start. I say this because you should typically eat a meal 2-3 hours before the start of the race. I usually wake up 3 hours before the start. This gives me time for travel and any variables (such as deciding how to wear my hair!) that may occur.
- Eat a breakfast that you know works for you the morning of the race. I never stray away from steel cut oatmeal, blueberries, a banana, and water. Occasionally, I love rye bread with soy nut butter spread on top and a banana.
- Drink water, extra water, and more extra water. From the moment I wake up, I have a gallon of Ozarka water by my bedside and I’m chugging. I drink until I feel satisfied and hydrated. Depending on the day and the temperature, I may drink between 24-32 oz. before I even begin running.
- Do dynamic stretches while at home. This gives you room to bend and stretch in all the ridiculous poses in the privacy of your home. I likethis video for stretching my legs and this video for stretching my feet (I’ve had foot pains since my last marathon.)
- Get to the starting line at least 45 minutes before the race begins. If you are running a 20,000+ people race, you may need to get there an hour before. When I tell you port-o-potty lines get backed up for miles, I kid you not. Depending on the race organization, it may not get so severe. But if you get there earlier, you get first dibbs on the fresh port-o-potties!
- Run a steady, smart race. Start off at a pace right at or slower than the pace you want to finish. Race morning is like the girl/boy your momma warned you about! It’s easy to get caught up in the adrenaline and excitement of music, people, caffeine you had that morning… but don’t fall for it! This is not to scare you away from challenging yourself. Step your pace up in the second half of the race if your body is feeling up to par that day! PR’s don’t happen by staying slow and steady the whole time.
- Muscle recovery begins 10-15 minutes immediately following a marathon. Yay! You’ve made it to the finish. Now, you get to eat again! Grab a banana, yogurt, energy bar, or whatever goodies the marathon is offering at the finish line. Your body will tell you that you are not hungry and that is normal. The point of eating a snack right after is to replenish carbohydrate/glycogen stores that you wiped out during the race.
- Have a meet-up plan with your family or friends. I’ve had a really horrible experience with this issue. Pick a phone pole, race sign, landmark, building, trashcan, etc. that is close to the finish line and accessible for both spectators and runners.