In the last blog, we started talking about some general best practices to follow in the week leading up to a big marathon or endurance race. Today, we’re going to talk about how important it is to make sure that the little things about your run are figured out a few days before the race. It’s often these small tasks that can really get in the way of being able to do all you’ve been training to do at your race.
Getting to the start line
Let’s start off with an easy one: How are you getting to the starting line? I’m a firm believer in having someone with you that can drive you where you need to go and drop you off close to an event’s starting area. You don’t have to worry about driving or parking and, hopefully, your ride is nice enough to stick around, watch you finish your race, have a good recovery shake ready for you, and take you home afterwards too.
What to wear to a race
Next, what are you wearing? Don’t wear a shirt or shorts you haven’t tried out on a long run before. Chafing is never a pretty site. Bloody armpits, thighs and nipples are not just ridiculously unattractive, but they are sure signs you’re a complete newb. I love buying a new shirt or shorts before a big race. But I always take it out with me for at least one long run just to make sure I know it’s going to perform for me.
Eat right the night before a race
What are you going to eat the night before and the day of the race? I’ll tell you right now: it’s going to be something you know. Don’t decide to try Thai food for the first time the night before a race. Don’t go to 31 Flavors as a pre-race treat if you know you can have issues with dairy. In fact, fat, in general, takes much longer to digest in the stomach. It’ll probably still be sitting in your system when you scamper up to that start line. So it’s a good idea to skip anything super fattening -especially if you know you get a nervous stomach the morning of a race.
Use running shoes you trust
Don’t ever buy new running shoes right before a race unless it’s one you’ve worn before, know fits you well, has never given you blisters and is comfortable to you right out of the box. Ideally, you should have at least fifty miles on a shoe by the time race day comes. Now, I used to sell running shoes, and I’d tell people this next rule all the time. I’ll admit I get how important it is to feel like a badass on race day morning. I get how a new pair of lightweight race shoes can make you feel like you’re the next Pre (please look that reference up if you don’t get it. Then email me and thank me.). I get how easy it is to feel all these things if your shoes are bright red and look like they’ve been stained that color with your fallen opponents blood –I get all of that. Heck, I’ve been that guy. Confidence is key on race day morning. If a new, lightweight shoe for the race is going to get you that confidence, that’s fine. Science tells us that if you’re quick and efficient enough, at most, you have the potential to shave off maybe a minute for a half marathon and almost three minutes in a full. That’s a big deal if you’re one of the elites that are looking for every second. But, here’s the catch folks –most of us aren’t elite. Truth is, most of us don’t need the flashy red shoes to go our fastest. So the lesson is don’t ever –ever– buy a shoe based on the way it looks. Never. I don’t know what it is about athletes and race day, but we all seem to drop 50 IQ points and start doing dumb things. Buying a racing shoe that looks like a cheetah sounds cool in the store, but when you put it on for the first time race day morning and it immediately feels like you’ve just strapped a medieval torture device around your foot, you’re going to really wish you had listened to me.
Coming up next
Stay tuned tomorrow for our final installment as I talk a bit more about race morning and how to prepare mentally if you’re usually a bundle of nerves even before you get to the starting line.