This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
The time is here! Only four days to race day! The work is done, you’ve been resting up and you’re probably bursting with energy right now. Don’t you wish the race was tomorrow?
Well, it’s Sunday. So what do you do between now and then to best be ready to go?
First and foremost, you don’t over think the race or spend too much time stressing out about it. Believe me, the weather forecast isn’t going to change every 5 minutes so there is no need to check it every 5 minutes. (For the record, I just checked for you and it looks chilly but dry!) Take care of the details but, after you’ve checked that you packed your shoes the first 10 times, you don’t need to check the next 20 times. Lay out a sound race strategy (think even splits/effort) and have faith in it. Don’t second guess it every 15 minutes. All of these things and all the other nervous habits you do will not help you and will in fact waste mental energy you could be using in the race.
Beyond not stressing over the details you’ve already worked out, what else do you need to do?
Hydrate. Now. Hydration is not something that’s accomplished in the 2 hours before the race or even in the day before the race. Hopefully you’ve already been taking care of hydration. If not, start right now by taking a break from reading and going to get a big drink of water. It can be hard with family Thanksgiving meals and other events going on but try hard to take care of your hydration.
Speaking of Thanksgiving meals, fuel healthfully. Stick with food you know and are comfortable with but focus on healthy food. And try not to overeat in a single meal tomorrow. Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner but try to do so in moderation. In the past, aggressive carb loading or even depletion/loading for marathoners made a lot of sense. These days, with the amount of carbs most marathoners consume on the course, it’s not as critical and there are risks associated with changing your diet too significantly. The better approach is to eat a normal, healthy diet and maybe add on a few high quality carbs along the way.
As for race weekend, I also have a few thoughts:
I’m not sure what the Seattle Marathon people will think of me saying this but, when you go to the expo, try not to spend too much time there walking or standing around. Get your race packet. If you want to listen to a speaker get there early and get a seat. If you want to visit a few vendors plan it out ahead of time and do so quickly. Then get out and get off your feet.
Have a plan for dinner. Whether you’re doing the race’s pasta feed, eating at home if you’re a local or working out your own restaurant plans, have this plan in place ahead of time so you can eat what you want when you want.
In the evening, do something to take your mind off the race for a while so you’re not wasting energy stressing over it. Watch a movie, read a book, whatever you want. Just distract yourself.
On race day, it all comes down to execution:
You should have your pre-race plan down. You’ve practiced with long runs and you know what you need to do. When you need to get up, when and what you need to eat before the race. Execute this plan. Then get to the start line early enough that you don’t have to stress over whether you will be there in time.
You also should have your race plan down. How you’re going to handle the hills early and late, what kind of pace you want to carry, how you should feel at different points in the race, what to do when you hit a rough patch, what to do when you hit a good patch at different points in the race. Execute the plan. Enjoy the run and the accomplishment.
Then, after the race, be sure to celebrate!
For the runners I’m coaching, you’ll get a more detailed, personalized version of this post tomorrow. For the rest of you, I wish you well.