One week to go.
After months of training, I will be running my first marathon next Sunday.
My running career started less than a year ago, when I ran in the Downsview Half-Marathon. The adrenaline rush from crossing that finish line was so thrilling, that it got me hooked on doing more races. In the months following (with a small hiatus from a skiing injury), I went on to do a few more half-marathons – and was even convinced to start training for a full marathon. Before I knew it, I had a Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon registration email sitting in my inbox, and there was no going back.
My god, what was I thinking?
The training was agonizingly hard, and the distance was daunting. It’s a bit crazy to find myself running more than 4 to 5 hours at a time in training (factor in a coffee break during the run – maybe two when we’re feeling excruciatingly tired), but I suppose that’s what it takes to run 42.2km.
And of course, chatty running partners.
As the day draws near, I find myself agonizing over every single detail about the race day. What should I eat? What’s the weather going to be like? Should I wear long-sleeves, short sleeves …hat, or no hat? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Mentally prepare yourself.
You WILL finish. Whether you run or walk the race, you will succeed. Don’t focus on time, the speedy runners passing you, or fatigue. Fight through it – focus on that glorious finish line.
- Stretch and Rest.
The days leading up to your race is equally as important as race day. Stretch out your muscles, and get lots of sleep. Eat only things that agree with your stomach, especially the night before the race (I usually avoid anything creamy, spicy or try anything new). I’m a carb fiend, so yes – pasta, rice, bread!
Not just during the race – but in the days before a big race, it is a good idea to sip as much water as you can to keep your body topped up. Your pee should come out clear – a light shade of yellow indicates that you’re probably well-hydrated.
- Look at the route.
Where does the race start and end? Does the route have a lot of hills? Where are the fuel and water stations? Looking at the map and knowing the route prior will put your mind at ease.
- Pick your outfit.
No joke, but this will calm your nerves in the morning. Check the weather and plan accordingly. Act like it’s your first day of school, work – even a first date. Lay out your clothes.
Eat something light before the big race. Bananas and oatmeal are always a good choice. Pack some gels or chews for your run, even if the organizers provide it on the course. You never know when you’ll need that next boost of energy.
- Arrive to the race early.
Again, it’s like your first day of school or work. There will be traffic, or issues finding parking, corrals, running buddies, etc. This will also give you enough time to walk around, stretch, and do other things to warm up your body before the race.
- Make a race day playlist.
I’m so used to having chatty running partners that I never listen to music during my runs. But on race day, we’re so focused that we don’t talk about our usual B-movies, work, people – or do our Bohemian Rhapsody acapella. Instead, we rely on endless dance music mixes to keep us going. Songza and Spotify does wonders, too.
- Band-Aids, Nipple Protectors, Chapstick, Glide.
Anything that keeps the run blister, injury, blood and (relatively) pain free.
Wish me luck!