The hardest part of your half or full marathon training is over, but what you do during the day before your race can make or break your race. Follow these tips to make sure you avoid making mistakes that will cost you valuable time or cause discomfort during your half or full marathon.
1. Eat Plenty of Carbohydrates
As you've been doing before your long training runs, you should be eating about 65-70% of your calories from carbs in the days leading up to your race. Don't stuff yourself at dinner the night before. Carbo-loading does not mean that you should eat three plates of pasta for dinner. As many runners like to say, "Too much 'loading' can lead to 'unloading' during the race." Eat amounts of food that you would normally eat.
2. Avoid Any Unusual Foods
Stick with foods that have worked well for you before your long training runs. If you've had trouble with runner's trots during your training runs, follow these recommendations for the best and worst pre-run foods. If you're planning to eat dinner out, check the restaurant's menu to make sure they serve foods that you've eaten before your long runs.
3. Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you're hydrating properly, your urine should be light yellow.You can also have one sports drink, to make sure you're getting some extra electrolytes. Avoid alcoholic beverages because they have a dehydrating effect, and they'll interfere with your sleep. Plus, it's not a good idea to run with a hangover.
4. Don't Overdo It
Stay off your feet, rest and relax. When you go to the race expo to pick up your race packet, don't spend hours walking around, attending clinics, and eating free food samples. Spending too much time on your feet will tire you out, and hanging around big crowds at the expo may get you nervous about your race. It's never a good idea to try new foods in the days before a half or full marathon -- and that includes giveaways. When you do need to walk around (when you go to the expo, for instance), make sure you're wearing running shoes or other very comfortable shoes.
5. Go For a Short Run, If You Need It
You're not going to lose any fitness by resting the day before your half or full marathon. But if you typically get pre-race anxiety, or you feel like you need to stay loose, it might be beneficial for you to do a very slow, 20-minute run the day before. If you do run, keep your thoughts positive and keep telling yourself that you're ready for your race. If you think you perform better after rest, then just relax during those 24 hours leading up to the race. Whatever you do, make sure that you don't do a significant workout that's going to leave you feeling tired or sore the next day.
6. Make Sure Your Toenails are Trimmed
Check your toenails and clip any that are too long. Keeping your toenails neat and short will prevent them from hitting the front of your shoes, which can lead to bloody or black toenails.
7. Get Your Clothing and Gear Ready
Lay out all your clothing and gear for the race the night before. Essential items include:
- Race bib (number) and safety pins
- Race timing chip (if it's not part of your race bib)
- Running outfit, hat, shoes and socks
- Your race fuels, such as energy gels (whatever you've been training with)
- A product to prevent chafing, such as petroleum jelly or Body Glide
More: Marathon Packing List
8. Stay Relaxed
9. Plan Breakfast
Make sure you have everything you need for breakfast. Don't assume that you'll be able to get certain foods at the race start -- it's better to be prepared and know you already have your food with you. Again, you should be eating breakfast foods that you tried out before your long training runs.
10. Review the course map.
More Pre-Race Advice ->