With anything in life, there are moments when you say, “If I knew then what I know now…” Well, Stacey and I had that conversation a few weeks ago when we were reminiscing about past races. Stacey’s list of re-dos was more physical, since she was still learning how to manage fueling and stomach issues. Mine were more mental changes, like pushing through a hill or not slowing down. Out of that conversation, we compiled a list of things we would do differently if we could re-run a half-marathon.
1. Don't do something new on race day that you didn't do in training. This rule is especially applicable to food. On race day most of us already have jitters and are prone to bathroom breaks. This can be exacerbated by changes in your diet. If you have not been eating a bowl of oatmeal before your long runs, please don’t try it on race day. I’m pretty sure you will end up in the port-o-potty line…
2. Eat at least TWO energy gels, one before the race, and one halfway into the race. I didn’t really start understanding the power of gels until I started training for my full. Now, they are the energy cocktails that fuel my long runs. Essentially, they will give me the carbs or fuel I need to keep running. I also typically eat the ones with caffeine.3. Mind Over Matter – It can be mentally exhausting to tackle an entire 13 miles if you try and countdown from 13 to 0. Instead try breaking the race into mini races - 10K, 5K, 5K. I’ll even set milestones for each mini race. For example, once I run a 10k, I’ll eat a gel, or I’ll set a goal time for the first 5k. By breaking the race down this way, I am focusing on accomplishing small goals that add up to a much larger one.
4. If you train with a fuel belt, wear it during the race. The reason is because you will have the flexibility to sip whenever you feel the need. Also, I train with gels and chewing gum. So, I wear a fuel belt so I can have those things only me to use at my discretion.
5. If you aren’t wearing a fuel belt, then sip water at EVERY water station. Be sure to stay hydrated – enough said.
6. Group support during a race is important. I like to run with a pace group or run around friends. I find the encouragement and postive energy is vital to my success.
7. If you need a pain reliever, take Tylenol not Advil. Advil is a NSAID, and has been said to lead to kidney failure during endurance events. However, Tylenol is an acetaminophen and much safer to take if you must take any pain relievers.
8. Take 2 Pepto Bismol tablet the morning of the race if you are prone to “Runner’s trot”. Along with tip #1, this may help you stay out of the port-o-potty line.