As it draws nearer and nearer to my second full marathon (I will officially be a marathoner!!), I am starting to go over my race day plans. With the amount of people I have had tell me they plan to either do their first half marathon or first full marathon, I thought I would share some of the things I go over race week to include information about my outfit, music, mile markers for water replenishment and what I plan to use as energy.
But first, I want to explain why the most important piece of advice I could give for running a race is train how you want to race. I didn’t do that, and it created challenges for my first marathon. My first marathon I trained entirely alone. It was always my music and me. This was one of the problems I faced during my marathon when I was suddenly running with someone and no longer had my music. Instead of letting the rhythm of the songs carry me I was wildly aware that I was running 26.2 miles, and to make it worse I could hear the increasingly heavy panting of my breathing as the miles progressed. You wouldn’t think the lack of music could be such an issue, but when you are pushing yourself to do something so extreme mentally and physically, altering anything than what you are accustomed to will mess with your head. Don’t get me wrong, I do occasionally run with a friend and chat while running now, but all my long runs are done with just my music. The second biggest problem I had was that I also did not bring a water bottle with me(I explain this more below) and it turned out to be an abnormally hot day where people were literally collapsing throughout the course. In fact, there were three different times I felt faint and had to walk. After finally crossing the finish line I had heard that the race was going to be canceled but the elites were too far through. Whether that is absolute, I am not sure, but that shows just how hot(and horribly humid) it was that race (Chicago Marathon 10/10/10) when I had trained in no humidity in San Diego. Because of that marathon and the added challenges I face (because running a marathon is apparently not hard enough), I altered how I raced to match my training. This has made all the difference!
With race day approaching I start considering which top, shorts, and socks I plan to wear on race day. I think over my long runs, the good, bad, sunny, humid or outright down pours. I try to remember which top provided the most comfort, as well as responded the best to my sweatiest or rainiest runs I have done, because I can’t be sure whether it will be a humid run where I will sweat a lot or if there will be a chance of rain. I decided I am going to wear my Nike top I got from Nordstrom(here). It isn’t annoying loose at the bottom, but not so tight where I feel like I need to be sucking in. The arm holes are also bigger so it doesn’t rub on my arm like other shirts can. The dry fit material also means I don’t feel my sweat sticking to me while I run and it dries quickly! When it comes to my shorts, I have a pair of running shorts that I have worn over my past few half marathons that I like because there is minimal riding up or adjustment needed while running. I believe I got the Champions brand. When running a race, the last thing you want to be doing is readjusting your shorts the entire run. Worse than that annoyance, in my experience, constant readjusting has often led to chaffing! No one wins with chaffing…trust me! Last but far from least, socks are one of the most important clothing items to take your time in considering. For me, I need socks that are thick and sturdy enough that the constant rub on my heels won’t cause a blister from too thin a material or the sock sliding down. I need my socks to not be too thick where my feet are unnecessarily warmed up when they start sweating. Having proper ventilation will allow your feet to breath through whatever conditions you may be facing. I recently found Adidas ones from Costco that provide a great cushion between my foot and shoe but also have ventilation to allow airflow if my foot sweats or gets wet from rain(similar here).
When it comes to my running music I always make sure to listen to my race specific playlist(10k, half marathon, full marathon) during training as well as during the race. I find comfort knowing that certain songs mean I am around certain miles. Having a playlist I listen to during my race also allows me to better control my race anxiety and adrenaline. I always start my music with slower songs and then gradually increase the intensity of the songs as the race progresses. This last week leading up to my race I will continue to go over my marathon play list and make sure all the songs are in the order I want them in and add/delete anything that doesn’t feel or flow right. I might not always hear the words of the song, but I need my music to be on point so when I need it to pull my focus, I can easily get back in the zone.
Starting off as a simple runner, I had never invested into all the accessories that can come with running other than a pair of shoes. When I started to increase my distance and needed water on my run, I just started running with a water bottle. I liked that I could have water whenever I wanted on my runs, and that during races I didn’t have to try and hold my thirst over until the water stations. (There are water waistbands, but they aren’t for me. But if you plan to use those, use them during your training too!!) If my arm gets tired of holding my water bottle I can just switch hands. If at any point it becomes too much I can always toss it. Which leads me to my point about water, know when you are getting your next supply. Whether it is the water stations, or in my case, which mile markers I need to make sure I have someone at to give me my new bottle. I typically drink one 23oz bottle over my first 12 miles where I get a new one and I will have another one waiting for me at mile 20 to take me to the end of the race.
When I first started doing long runs I was told I would have to learn to eat and run at the same time. I thought that person was crazy! How is it possible to eat and run? Well, when you are running a far distance, you learn really quickly how to do it and how important it is to provide your body with that fuel. I only recently started eating the Organic Clif Bar gummies thanks to an awesome recommendation from a friend! I had used different types for my past races, but it always left a bad taste in my mouth and didn’t seem to satisfy my energy levels. These new ones I found are amazing! They are the perfect amount of energy to keep me going during a long run! I use them on runs of 6 or more miles. I will have one starting at mile three and then every two miles after that to keep a constant energy stream while I run. I plan to have one every mile if needed for miles 20-25. I keep one pack tucked into where I roll my shorts so it is easy to grab and so light weight I don’t notice it. I will get a new package at the same miles I get my new water bottle(the gummies are packs of six). I feel like adding these gummies, and the frequency that I eat them, to my run has made such a big difference in my endurance and ability to push myself during races. I am not sure which stores sell them, but they are available on amazon!
I hope for those future half marathoners and full marathoners that you found this helpful! Good luck on your runs! xxoo