Here is a top ten list of things for new marathon runners to consider on race day.
10: Keep your starting line excitement in check
Your goal pace may feel extremely slow when you add in race-day adrenaline and excitement, so it’s important to keep an eye on your first few mile splits and make sure they’re near that pace. Be sure to correct quickly if they’re not, because you’ve got a long race ahead!
9: Plan your hydration and nutrition
This can be a loose plan of where and what you will intake, keeping in mind that as the mercury in the thermometer rises, so should the amount you hydrate. It’s also a good idea to trial your plan on a few long training runs.
8: Use worn in, but not worn out shoes
Some of the last things you want to have develop during a race are blisters or chafing, so keep those shiny new shoes spotless in their box until your runs after the race. You should also try out the socks you’re going to wear that day, as well. This will help to ensure you stay comfortable throughout the race.
7: Be sure to dress warm at the starting line
Start time temperatures are often much cooler than temperatures you’ll be running in for the majority of the race, and shivering is a waste of valuable energy you’ll need to finish the run! It’s likely you’ll want to shed these extra layers shortly after you start, so make sure you dress in something you’re comfortable with never seeing again. But don’t worry! Race volunteers comb the route afterward and donate everything they pick up to local homeless shelters.
6: Relax and settle in to your groove
For some, this can be as easy as watching their mile splits, and for others this may be socializing with other runners around them. The easiest way to fall out of your groove is trying to keep up with runners who are faster than you. Seeking out runners who run a similar pace, or running in a pace group is a great way to prevent this from happening.
5: Know the course and plan accordingly
Flatter areas, especially around the trio of lakes, can lend to mile splits a bit under your planned average pace. On the flip side, there are a number of hills at the River Roads, and those last few miles up the always tortuous Summit Avenue, that can lead to higher split times than usual. A good plan of attack is lightly fluctuating your pace around your planned average.
4: Starting out too slow is better than too fast
You’ll need the energy to run up mountain-esque Summit Avenue toward the end of the race. And if you have energy left, “empty your tank” after you’re done scaling it at mile 23.
3: Feel free to adjust your stride if you’re cramping or feeling discomfort. If your calves are giving you problems, landing with a flatter foot or heel striking will help to resolve it. If your knees or hips are the culprit, try increasing your cadence (not speed) with faster, lighter short steps.
2: Always remember that walking is OK
Planning some walking is a great race strategy, and can even save you time in the long run, pun intended. Better to take some time to walk and catch your breath than crash and burn later into the run.
1: Race as you trained
Race day is not the time to try anything new. Including some mock races in training, where you carry out your planned race strategy, can help you feel more prepared and more comfortable when the big day arrives. You’ll know how to cope with situations normally reserved for race day. Be both realistic and optimistic in your goals, but most importantly, enjoy the event!