Preparing to run your debut marathon can be a scary thing. There are so many unknowns, and even though you’ve put in the work, the build to race day can be incredibly stressful. The best thing you can do to calm your nerves ahead of your marathon (or really any race that’s new to you) is to plan for every part of your run. From your clothes to your nutrition plan and more, you need to be ready for everything on the big day. And while planning ahead doesn’t mean your race will be free of hiccups, the in-depth preparation will at least help you relax a bit before the run, as you’ll know you’re as ready as you can be for the event. Here are a few tips to consider before your next race.
Write a checklist
Speaking of being prepared for race day, it’s a good idea to write a list of everything you’ll need for your run. The morning of the run, go through the list before you leave your house and make sure you have every item packed and ready to go. This will save you from the hassle of mentally checking things off and worrying that you might be missing something, plus it’ll help you avoid actually forgetting anything, which is a running nightmare that no one wants to experience in real life.
Find chafe-proof clothes
In training runs, be sure to test every item of clothing you plan to wear during the race. It doesn’t matter how comfortable something feels when you try it on, because it’s a completely different story when you’re wearing it for 42.2K of running. Test your shorts, your shoes, your shirts and even your socks. Otherwise, you might get an unpleasant mid-run surprise when you start to chafe or blister.
Plan your route
If you’re doing a virtual race, plan your route beforehand. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself constantly checking your watch to see how much farther you have to go. Planning the route before you start will give you the luxury of running freely and knowing exactly where you are and how many kilometres are left until the finish line.
Have a nutrition plan
Like the clothing tip, don’t try any new food on race day. Your breakfast, pre-race snack and whatever you eat during your run should all be tested in training. Ignoring a nutrition plan could lead to you taking unscheduled bathroom breaks, or it could result in you bonking. Either way, you’ll probably fall short of whatever time you hoped to run.
Get the right shoes
If you’re a regular runner, you should already have proper running shoes, but it’s especially important for long races like the marathon. You’re going to spend hours on the course, which means thousands of steps on hard pavement. If you don’t have the right shoes, you could pay for it, both during the race and in the days or weeks after you cross the finish.
Accept the pain
Don’t go into the race thinking you won’t hit a wall. You’re going to hit one. Everyone does at some point, and if you convince yourself that you’re special, then you’re only setting yourself up for failure, because when you do hit the wall, you’ll be surprised. Accepting the inevitable pain you’ll experience before going into the race will help you deal with it when the time comes, which will play a huge role in you getting over that wall and carrying on toward the finish.