Tips for Your First Half Marathon: Race Day

Today could not be more appropriate to provide my second installment of tips for running your first half marathon. This post will focus on race day preparation, and just hours ago, Geoffrey Mutai and Priscah Jeptoo, both of Kenya, crossed the finish line in Central Park to win the New York City Marathon. For additional features and coverage of the five-borough race, check out the New York Times and Runner’s World. The New York Times also created a Run Well training tool, where you can fill in your information and receive personal training schedules from around the web.

Photograph of the New York City Marathon in 2009, taken by Rebecca Wilson. | Republished with Creative Commons license.

Photograph of the New York City Marathon in 2009, taken by Rebecca Wilson. Republished with Creative Commons license.

But anyway, let’s get to the race day tips for your first 13.1:

  1. Have everything laid out the night before, including your clothes, breakfast and other race day essentials. If you are using an mp3 player, make sure it’s charged and your playlist is ready.
  2. Wake up early enough to ingest plenty of water and allow time to digest. You can find what works for you by treating your long run mornings as if they were race day.
  3. Don’t eat or wear anything different. Again, by now you should know what works for you because of your long run preparation. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it were 15 degrees warmer than it is. However, wear plenty of layers to stay warm up to the gun.
  4. Take some time to mentally prepare. Envision yourself crossing the finish line feeling healthy and proud.
  5. Get to the race location early. Calculate how much time you’ll need to pick up your packet/bib and check your baggage, and add plenty of time for bathroom lines.
  6. Line up properly. Situating yourself in the wrong starting corral could lead to a race run too quickly, too early.
  7. Break up the half marathon by setting small milestones. The marathon for me was a mental battle, and I won by seeing the race as a series of three 4-mile runs, which was more doable in my eyes than thirteen 1-mile runs.
  8. Be your own cheerleader. I found it helpful to talk to myself, often acting as my own personal trainer. “Come on, what’s three more miles? Twenty-five minutes and I get a cheeseburger!”
  9. Create your own “pacer.” I find that I run better when I’m competing with others, so I picked out two to three people that were running at my pace, and even a few seconds faster, to push me to stay strong.
  10. Remember why you’re running. If it’s for a charity, or just to accomplish a personal goal, you chose to do this. Most importantly, HAVE FUN.

What do you guys think? I hope this advice make race day seem less intimidating. Stay tuned for a final installment of post-race tips, which focus on what to do immediately after and in the days following your first half marathon.

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One thought on “Tips for Your First Half Marathon: Race Day

  1. Pingback: Tips for Your First Half Marathon: Post-Race | Sneakers & Skyscrapers

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