by Peter Geithner, Covered Bridges Marathon Team Positive Tracks member
The final days leading up to a race are always the most stressful, so the awesome squad at Positive Tracks has asked me to share a few tips and notes on my routine leading up to a race. These are hopefully applicable to anyone, regardless of pace, prior Half Marathon experience, etc. There is definitely an element of personal preference here, but hopefully I can provide some sort of framework within which you can lay out your own plans as race day approaches.
10 – 12 days out: Run your last hard
effort before the race! This is a nice chance to cap off a hard block of
training before beginning the taper/tune-up phase. For road races, I like to do
a “Fartlek” workout. This is a continuous run that alternates hard and
easy sections so you have the chance to turn your legs over without taking
complete recovery in between reps. An example might be 8 x 2 minutes at race
effort with 1 minute of easy jogging in between.
7 days out: Set a goal! This is a nice time to take as objective a measure as possible of your fitness. That way you can lay out what you want to accomplish and what you think you’re capable of on race day. You might have a specific time in mind, you might want to get to a certain distance feeling good, or you may just want to finish with two intact legs remaining! No matter the specifics of the goal, it is a good idea to have something in mind a week before the race so that you have a game plan at the start line.
4-5 days out: Figure out race-day logistics!!! This is huge. A really easy way to show up on the starting line stressed is if you’ve mistimed or forgotten something. This is especially true at races with many participants. It is super helpful to have your plans for the 12-24 hours before the gun goes off all worked out. That way you can just focus on relaxing.
2 days out: Get a good night of sleep! Your
body can push through pretty much anything for a day, so don’t sweat it if
Saturday night brings something of a restless slumber. The important night to
get 8 or 10 hours is Friday, so leave your alarm off if possible and feel free
to snooze the morning away.
1 day out: Keep it simple! A short jog (or no run at all) followed by a hearty meal for dinner is all you really need. I’m also not at all opposed to a glass of wine or a beer with dinner. I’ve never noticed any ill effects and it can be a nice way to convince yourself that going out and hammering 13.1 miles is just business as usual. I also try to stay off my feet as much as I can the day before the race and will spend the vast majority of my day watching Netflix.
Race day: I like to feel like I’m on autopilot the morning of the race. Make sure you have a routine, and don’t worry too much about what it entails. Some breakfast and ensuring you get to the start line on time are pretty much the only things that our whole group will do. Anything else is up to you! As an example, for Covered Bridges I’ll wake up at about 4:45, have 2 cinnamon raisin bagels with cream cheese, some coffee, and a banana. I’ll also drink about 20-30 oz. of water when I wake up and I’ll end up sipping close to 20 more before the gun goes off. Being dehydrated is no fun, particularly in the event of a warm day.
I’ll get to the starting area about an hour and a half before race time and lounge around for a bit until I begin my warmup about an hour out. In the last half hour to hour I think it’s a good idea for everyone to take a few minutes to stretch (dynamic stretching is the best but static is good too!) The looser you are at the start line the less chance you have of ending the day with a new injury.
During the race the only advice I have is to have fun and make it hurt. These are definitely not mutually exclusive. No matter what your goal is, the race will be hard at some point. I highly recommend boarding the pain train with exuberance and letting it take you for a ride. Not many people take the time to push themselves this hard physically on a regular basis, so I always consider myself really fortunate when an opportunity to race rolls around. The euphoria only increases for every extra bit of energy you put into the race, so make it hurt!
That’s pretty much all I can think of, I hope these were even somewhat helpful! There are probably about a million related tips online if you want to do some supplemental research.
No matter how the race goes I hope everyone is able to have an awesome time! I know I will. If you’re curious at all what my few weeks leading up to the race will look like feel free to check my running log here or my Strava page where most of my runs show up.
And if you feel like hanging out after the race there’s a strong chance you’ll find me in the Harpoon tent. I’ll be there for a while and I’d love to meet you!
See you next Sunday!
Peter - Dartmouth Class of 2016, Distance and Cross Country athlete
Peter (second from the left) & the Dartmouth Team