The Iron Horse Half Marathon is coming up this Sunday. Whether this is your first half marathon or your hundredth, here are a few things to keep in mind leading up to race day.
Enjoy the taper. You have trained hard and consistent up until this week. We can all go a little crazy when the mileage decreases and we have more time and energy on our hands. Let your body rest up and be ready for race day. Continue to follow the advice of trust your training, and trust the taper as well. Follow your training plan to the letter this week, not a mile more.
Get plenty of sleep. Sometimes it is difficult to sleep the night before a race. Set out everything you need the day before – all of your clothing, fuel, technology, bib, pins. All of it. Set multiple alarms if that helps you feel better. Then try to get some sleep. Even if your nerves and excitement keep you under your optimal sleep amount, you’ll be just fine if you have slept well for the few nights leading up to the race.
Don’t try anything new on race day. From clothing to socks to what you eat for breakfast to what you eat during your race. Practice everything first. Have a new outfit you want to race in? At least wear it on a short run first. On race day, try to create the pre-run routine from your training runs. Your body will appreciate the familiarity. Your body will be impacted enough by your nerves. Don’t introduce a new food or drink before or during the race.
Don’t go out too fast. It is easy to get caught up in the pack and run too hard in the beginning. Try to hold back and keep some energy for the end of the race. It is easier to run harder at the end when you have reserves than to blow all your energy and to have dead legs at the end. Run your pace and run your race.
Have a solid plan, but be flexible. Know your goal. You may want to finish ahead of the sweeper. You may want to PR. You may want to have negative splits. You may just want to beat the runner that barely beat you last year. Know your goal and keep that in your sights. However, be willing to make on-the-fly changes. Maybe you were planning on timed run/walk intervals, but you switch to a walk uphill/run downhill approach. Maybe you planned to run to finish, but are making good time at the 7 mile point and decide to push for a PR. Maybe you had planned for a PR and your legs never felt right and you decide to stop and take selfies with horses. Different days have have different results on the same course. Be willing to go with the flow.
Pack a post-run bag. You have learned over the course of training what you need after your run. Think about packing a pair of flip flops or sandals, a light jacket, maybe even some dry clothes. Is there a post-run snack that makes you especially giddy? Throw that in there too. Give your bag either to someone who is coming to support you or leave it in your car.
Looking for race day tips specifically for the Iron Horse? You can click here to see race day and prep for the Iron Horse Half Marathon and here for common IHHM FAQs.