How is it already the very end of September? On the East Coast, September signals the start of the fall racing season. A few half marathons have already happened this month, with the major marathon season starting in the next week or two. So it seems like a perfect time to start getting mentally prepared for race-day. And practically prepared. Because being unprepared with the practical things can totally throw you off on race day.
1. Figure out packet pickup, the expo and your race day transportation more than 48 hours in advance. Hands up if you’ve ever left looking at this information until the day before? Please tell me I’m not alone here. While it has worked out for me, it has also led to some undue stress that would have been totally preventable if I had planned ahead a bit more. The week (or more) before the race, look at where packet pickup is, and decide how and when you’re going to do that. Same thing for race day- where is the start/finish, how are you getting to/from, are there any strange things to be aware of (I’m giving you the side-eye DC Metro closures).
2. Set out what you’re going to wear the night before (or earlier if you’re travelling to the race). Use the weather forecast and Runner’s World tool to help you. I kind of have my go-to race day clothes for varying temps, but it’s good to have it ready early. You can have multiple sets (what if it’s 5-10 degrees above or below expected) at the ready and then make a final decision the next morning. Don’t forget things for pre and post race (throw aways/things to put on post-race)! Personally, I use mylar sheets from previous races or trash bags pre-race with old socks as gloves. And then a change of clothes or sweats for after the race.
3. Give yourself extra time in the morning. There is nothing worse that rushing on race day. Give yourself a little extra time to get things sorted out. For me, usually the adrenaline makes me move faster, I get more done in my normal allotment of time.
4. Have your consistent breakfast/pre-long-run rituals. Race morning is not the time to try a new brand of oatmeal, or decide to have coffee. Whatever you’ve been doing before long runs, do that. Seriously. Maybe get in an extra bathroom stop, but just do what you normally do. I know it’s a special and exciting day, but routine is king before the race!
5. Get to the start line early and savor the moment! Check your bag, do warmups, wait in the porta lines, find your friends, take some start-line selfies. Enjoy it! This is half of the feeling that you will remember when you sign up for your next race- the excitement, anticipation, some nerves, ready to see how your training has paid off.
What do you do to prepare for race day?