Marathon Mama: Tips for making a race day plan

By Beth Gallini, mama of 2 and runner

keep calmRace day for the Hogeye Marathon is approaching quickly!  At this point, many of you are likely knee deep in training and the anticipation to see it all come together on race day is starting to build.

Having a race plan is critical to having a good race.  Although there are a number of things you cannot control on race day, there are a number of things you can control and these things can make or break a race.

Before the race:

Taper. The length and amount of your taper will depend on which race you are running – the longer your race, the longer you will taper.  You want to go into the race well rested and with fresh legs.

Have a realistic goal. In the weeks leading up to the race, it is important to review your training and to be honest with yourself when thinking about your race goals.

Review the course map and elevation chart. Race websites should offer you a course map and elevation chart so you know what to expect.

Plan your morning. Plan what time you need to wake up, what you are going to wear, what you will eat, what time you need to leave, where you will park, and what time you want to arrive.

Sleep. Two nights before a race is commonly thought to be the most important night to get a good night’s sleep because most people have too many race day jitters to sleep well the night before.

Race day:

Don’t try anything new. Race day is not the time to experiment with anything new!  What you eat, drink, fuel with, and wear should all be tested during your training.

Be prepared for the weather. If it is cold outside, you will want something to keep you warm before the race.  Most races will donate clothes runners toss at the start or during the first few miles (the Hogeye Marathon donates all clothes to 7 Hills Homeless Center).

You can either wear something you won’t miss or pick up something on clearance at a discount store.  If it is raining or the ground is wet, bring a trash bag to keep you dry.

Line up in the right corral. If the race has a corral system, it is best to line up in your assigned corral.  You will be assigned a corral based on your expected finish time and it will place you near runners of comparable ability.  If you start too far up, you will be in the way of faster runners.  If you start too far back, slower runners will be in your way and you will have to weave around them.

Don’t start too fast! This is a hard, but important point.  It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a race and to start faster than you intend.  It is also easy to think you can “bank” time.  However, starting too fast causes you to go through stored energy, your muscles to fatigue, and you end up losing more time in the end.  Instead, starting a little slow or at your target pace will not have a negative effect on your overall time.

Run the tangents. Race courses are measured on the shortest possible route, but most runners will end up running slightly over the race distance.  If you wear a watch with GPS, this is why you will often see a distance on the watch that is longer than the race distance.  To run the tangents, you want to run turns close to the curb and generally run the shortest distance between two points.  You also want to avoid weaving around other runners as much as possible.

Remember to have fun! There are many things you can’t control on race day.  You may have a great day where everything goes perfectly or you may have a day where you wish you stayed in bed.  Regardless of how your race goes, remember to have fun and to be thankful that you are healthy and active enough to be out there!

Beth Gallini runningAbout Beth: Beth is mom, runner, running coach, and the blogger behind RUNNING around my kitchen.  She and her husband adopted two boys who are a month apart and are 1 year old. Beth serves on the board for the Hogeye Marathon and is interested in helping other moms with their training and answering any questions you have.   Be social, connect with other Hogeye runners, and let them hear from you by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  #hogeyemarathon