No matter which running style you may espouse, you have something in common with each other when it comes to racing; that is you each need to be ready both physically and mentally for personal success at the finish line.
While the highly competitive racer is likely to be physically ready for the looming challenge ahead, she or he may not necessarily have acquired the mental toughness needed to get there on time. Will you finally beat your long-time nemesis? How accepting are you if that doesn't happen?
The novice runners have their own worries, such as achieving goals from running non-stop to keeping up with their training partners. This is normal behavior to doubt yourself about your training leading up to an event. The key is to think about all the hard work you have done and how good you are going to feel in the moment. This way of thinking will give you confidence.
And to help wipe away any pre-run nerves before "race day", here are my top 5 tips to help you run your best:
1. Shoes/Gear: Get organized the night before.
Pin your race number on the front of your shirt as this saves any last minute jitters. If the weather is in doubt, bring all appropriate gear with you, including extra socks. Bring comfortable clothing to put on after the race. Don't break in new runners on race day. Shoes should be worn for at least one training run before using them in a race. Double knot your laces for race day. Imagine how you'll feel when you have to take 20 seconds or more to re-tie a shoelace that came needlessly undone.
Bring Vaseline, band aids. Avoid dressing too warmly. It may be cold before the race starts, even for a few kilometers into the race but then your body heat will rise considerably and you will be glad you dressed light. Keep your body warm before and after but not during the race!
2. Nutrition/Hydrate: Eat a light dinner the night before.
Pasta, for example. Avoid anything too spicy or creamy sauces. Eat before the race! You may eat toast, bagels or even pancakes and eggs, as long as you eat two hours before the race. This will give your body time to work the 'fuel' through your system. You may also want to eat an energy gel or bar if you entered a half or full marathon, halfway through the race. This will 'kick in' with about 5 kilometers remaining, or in other words, just when you need it most.
Avoid eating too close to race start as this could lead to problems during the race. If you wait until you are thirsty during the race, you waited too long. You should begin hydrating for the half marathon three days before the race. Most big races have water and/or Gatorade on the course.
A good night's sleep is important, especially two nights before the race. Some runners don't sleep well the night before the race because of the building excitement. This is not important if you have slept well on the previous night. Keep off your feet as much as possible before race day.
Your body needs to stretch after a warmup and especially after the workout is completed. Stretch ALL of your muscle groups, including calves, quads, hamstrings, groins, I-T bands, arms, and upper and lower back.
5. Start slow, finish strong.
Use your opening three kms as your warm-up for the half marathon. Don't be concerned with a 'slow' start as you will definitely make up the time later. Do not run with your hands in the 'fist' configuration. Keep your shoulders low and relaxed and pump your arms, especially on the hill sections. Have a realistic goal. Write on a wrist band the times you are hoping to achieve at 5 kms, 10 kms, 15 kms and 20 kms.
Remember to run your own race. Don't compare yourself to others. Keep focused and relaxed -- it will keep you running smoothly.
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