Once I decided to do my first half marathon race and chose a training program that worked for my abilities and schedule, I set off on my journey. Running became a part of my routine at least three times a week. I was committed to my schedule and to the challenge.
During my training, I began learning that completing a half marathon successfully is not just about running, but by preparing yourself for the actual event. As you can imagine, there are several different food and drink options available to runners to supplement the depletion of energy stores over long durations. No two runners are exactly alike, and to find out what works, you must experiment! I tried different gels, chews, energy beans and even peppermints on my runs to figure out what would work for me on race day. It is also important to decide what you should eat before a race. The night before you may increase your carbohydrate intake moderately, but do not eat something so heavy or spicy that it comes back to haunt you the next morning. Breakfast the morning of the race should be something plain like a banana and a piece of toast. Remember pre race meals are also something you can and should experiment with ahead of time!
Wearing clothes that are appropriate for the race day temperature is important! Layering will be the key in colder climates and moisture wicking, breathable materials are crucial for those hot runs. There may be an urge to get a new outfit for your big race day, but I would advise against it. You want to be in clothing and shoes that you have worn before on longer runs. This way you can avoid any materials that may leave you chaffed or blistered!
Know the course for your race, especially if you are running your first half out of town. Take a drive along the route before the big day and visualize the areas that you will need to hydrate or eat. Be familiar with how far apart water stations and bathrooms are along the course. You definitely want to know what to expect from the course. This was where I learned a huge lesson! I looked up the course map on my race’s website a few weeks before the big day, and I discovered that the last quarter mile of the race was in sand! If I had not realized that beforehand, I would have been so discouraged that far in my run to discover a new obstacle. Thankfully, I knew it was coming, and I was able to muster up that last bit of energy to cross the finish line!
Get adequate rest in the nights before your race, and let your nerves be added energy to push you through! Lastly, enjoy it because it will be over before you know it (seriously!).
Dr. Kelly J. Donaldson