We’re embarking on my favorite time of year – race season is starting! This weekend is my first race of the year and one of my favorite half marathons – the Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon. It’s my home town race, and I absolutely love running this course through Washington, DC every year. But moving from the winter training months into “race mode” gets me thinking – what do I need to do to prepare and have a great half marathon race day?
So I put together 13.1 Half Marathon Race Day Tips, and also coordinated with some other running bloggers for their best half marathon race day tips! Check out my tips below, along with tips from co-hosts Running on Happy, Brooklyn Active Mama, Organic Runner Mom, and Coach Debbie Runs and other bloggers who are joining in below in the linkup.
13.1 Half Marathon Race Day Tips
1. Start your fueling the day before. Race day fueling doesn’t begin on race day – start your fueling the day before the half marathon with healthy choices, enough protein, and nothing unusual that will rock the boat the next morning.
2. Gather intel. Read the info on the race website, the runner instructions, and anything posted at packet pickup. How many corrals are there and which one are you in? Is there a bag check? Shuttles to the start from a parking area? Knowing key info will help you to have a smoother race morning and allow ample time for everything you need to do.
3. Prep your gear and go to bed! This may sound like a no-brainer, but I’ve run many a race after staying up way too late the night before and suffered the mega-energy-fade midway through the race. Organize your things for the race, set out your breakfast, lay out your race outfit, pin your bib to your shirt, and get to sleep.
4. Know the course. Well before race day, read up on the course so that you know what to expect. In fact, it helps to do this before your training runs so that you know what kind of terrain will serve you best. Running a race full of rolling hills? Then flat roads may not prepare you as well as they could, even if you’re putting in the miles.
5. Wake up early. Sometimes I’ve pushed my alarm until the last minute, trying to squeeze out an extra 15 minutes of sleep on race morning. I figured I needed maximum rest. But after some not-so-fun incidents of rushing to the race start or encountering parking issues, I realized that the stress sapped my energy more than that 15 minutes of sleep.
6. Eat a good breakfast. Fuel up well on race morning, but stick to what’s worked for your long runs in training.
7. Have a logistical plan. Running races in DC for so many years, I’ve gotten used to making a plan of where to park and how to get to the race start. And I’ve run races all over the place since I love to travel for racecations. I’ve learned my lessons – I’ve been stuck in crowds on a metro platform, I’ve been stuck in long parking lines, I’ve been stuck in crazy security lines, I’ve been stuck trying to find a bag check that’s nowhere near the start line, I’ve been stuck in long portapottie lines. You get the picture.
The best plan of attack is to have a plan. Figure out ahead of time where things are and guesstimate how much time they might take. Work backwards from the race start time. Again, the key is to be earlier than you think you need to be at the race site.
8. Run in the shoes you’ve trained in. Now is not the time to try out brand new running shoes. Stick with what’s worked for your training.
9. Don’t overdress. I warm up pretty quickly when I’m running, and don’t want to be stuck carrying a shed layer. If the starting line is chilly then bring an old shirt to toss on the side (most races will donate the clothing) – but be careful not to drop it where a runner could trip.
10. Get in your corral early. Learn from my mistakes – rushing through crowds trying to get to the right corral does not put you in a focused frame of mine when the gun goes off. Get in your corral early and park yourself there. You’ll be glad for the extra time to get your head in the game.
Or to take selfies.
11. Run your own race. Have a plan of what your goal time is and how you want to get there and try not to compare yourself to others or keep up with others. This will help you set realistic expectations, and not to go out too fast in the first few miles.
12. Corral yourself correctly. If the race doesn’t have assigned corrals, try to find a sign for the pace you are going to run and corral yourself with that group. This will help the first mile or two be smoother and safer for all.
13. Have a mantra or mental focus for the race. Having this mental focus will keep you going when it gets hard.
And the “.1″ is… have fun! Soak up the experience and enjoy every mile.
I’m super excited for my first half marathon of the year this Saturday, and can’t wait to feel the energy of the starting line! It’s only the beginning of an amazing year of races, so I cannot wait to get started.
Also check out these Five Race Etiquette Tips!
What’s your first race of the year? Do you have any half marathon race day tips you’d add? Post in the comments and let me know!
Have a half marathon race day tips post? Add your link below – just link back to one or all of the hosts so your readers can come find all the great half marathon race day tips below!