Hungry Runner Girl: 10 Things I Do Before A Big Race

These 10 actions can help you reach your potential on race day!

My first marathon!
My first marathon!

The Boston Marathon has been my dream race for the last 5 years. I am finally making it to the starting line in less than a month. I have put a lot of time, sweat, work and money into my training. My grocery bill is always out of control during marathon training and running shoes— they aren’t cheap. There are a few things that I do before big races that I believe help me to reach my potential on race day!

1. I put myself to bed early. Okay, so going to bed early isn’t always a hard thing for me; my 2 year old hits the hay at 8:30 which means I get into bed at a good hour most nights. But putting my phone and/or book away at a decent hour once I am in bed is tough for me. In the month leading up to the marathon, I go to sleep when I get into bed. I put my phone on the other side of the room so I don’t scroll through Instagram for an hour. I tell myself just ONE chapter in my book before falling asleep. A lot of recovery goes on when we are asleep, so I make sure to make the smart choice over reading every blog on the planet before finally closing my eyes.

2. I get a new pair of my favorite shoes. I wear them a few times before the race but not enough to break them down. I really love a new pair of shoes because it makes me feel like I am floating. A pair of Brooks PureFlows are in the mail on the way to my house as we speak.

3. In the two days leading up to a marathon, I spend a lot less time on my feet. Simple as that. I just sit more than I normally do.

4. I don’t cheat on the taper. Yes, it is hard on us to cut back our mileage the three weeks leading to a marathon, but don’t be tempted to run your normal mileage or intensity. Giving your body those weeks to properly recover from all of your killer workouts throughout the training cycle is going to help you so much on race day. Going into a marathon with fresh legs is necessary if you want to do really well. For week 1 of the taper, I usually cut my mileage down to about 85% of my normal mileage. Week 2, I cut down to about 70-75% of my normal mileage. For the week of the race, I drop down to 50% (or even a little less) of my normal running.

5. I don’t run the day before a marathon. A lot of people love to go for a few miles to shake out their legs (and their nerves) the day before but I don’t. It can be beneficial to run a few miles for blood flow and to help you to melt off any nerves, but I personally like to take the day off. I like to make myself crave the starting line! Figure out what is best for you!

6. I visualize success especially when self-doubt creeps in. I have gotten really good at recognizing those negative thoughts that tell me I am not good enough and replacing them with visualizations of me performing my best at the race.

7. I put together a killer playlist. I spend probably too much time on my race playlists. I don’t start listening to music until about mile 10 of the marathon but for those last 16 miles of the race, it really helps me to stay strong and to keep moving forward.

8. I’ll admit it, I love a good cold diet coke every now and then. However for the month leading up to a race, I cut out soda completely. This helps me to stay fully hydrated and for water to do it’s magic in my body:)

9. The week leading up to the race, I lower my fiber intake. Two days prior to the race, I steer clear of salads and veggies. Instead I stick with more easily digestible foods. I have yet to have to make a porta potty stop during a race. Experiment around with what works for you and stick with it like glue. Plenty of protein and easy to digest carbs are what does the trick for me during the last few days before the marathon!

10. I make sure to let go of the things that are out of my control. We all check the weather obsessively leading up to a race even if the weather tells us something we don’t want to hear. Sometimes we get a cold the week of the marathon. Other times we have family stressors going on which we have no control over. Prepare well for the conditions but don’t obsess over them. If things are out of your control that may affect your race negatively, don’t stress. There will always be another race! Stay positive and do the absolute best that you can do given the circumstances!