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If there’s anything 17 half marathons has taught me, it’s that you learn something new before and after each one. Just when I think I’m a total pro and totally nail training and nutrition and recovery and stretching…I mess something up. I get excited about another race and inevitably do something the week before that’s totally emotionally driven and not a sound decision. This is not smart when you’re about to run 13.1 racing miles, which I will do next week at the Women’s Running Series in Nashville.
For example, after my first half marathon in 2008, I made the mistake of not stretching. I feel great! My time was amazing! This wine is yummy! (It was in Napa.) So I woke up the next day with excruciating pain that I had never felt before. Whoops. Before an impromptu decision to run Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles last October, I ran the Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco the weekend before. I can totally handle two races on back-to-back weekends. Totally not a problem. People do it all the time. When mile 10 rolled around, it felt as though a small gremlin named Exhaustion had crawled into my stomach, got my colitis all riled up and laughed about it for the next 3.1 miles. I finished—but it was fetal position for two hours after.
Mistakes happen! We get excited about the race. We get cocky with our training. We get nervous about not enough training, and we get curious to see how far our bodies can go. But if you want to truly be ready to tackle Nashville ferociously, fearlessly and like a total bad-ass female, here’s some self-discovered tips that I would like to dish out (remember, I’m clearly not a pro, but I’m working on it):
- Don’t cram in another long run. Hey, girl—your legs look ready. Don’t test them out just for kicks and giggles. Let them rest! Do some shorter, easier runs, and trust that your training (which I know you’ve done!) will bring you to the start line feeling fresh on Sept. 27.
- Stretch We’ve all heard it—”Runners don’t need to stretch.” We’ve also all heard, “Runners do need to stretch.” in my experience, narrowing in on extra stretching, foam rolling and really any meditative movements during that final week can only benefit you. It relaxes the mind and gives your muscles a little extra TLC!
- Don’t eat anything new. I always hear this for race-day fueling: Don’t try anything new that morning or during the race. For us people that have more diet restrictions than the general population, I’ve discovered that I feel enormously better during a race if I haven’t shoveled weird food the days leading up. Of course, this doesn’t include my post-race tradition of In n Out Burger. (And if anyone has any Nashville alternatives suggestions, let me know!)
- Don’t skimp on sleep. I’m basically a grandma all the time (It’s literally my nickname with my circle of friends who like to “go out a lot”), but I definitely spoil myself with extra Zs the week leading up to a race. We all get #runnerves the night before, so making sure you’re stocked up during the week at least seems appropriate and effective mentally.
- Skip the bevvie. I know I’ve been raving about the post-run MIMOSAS in Nashville, but that’s because it’s after the race. I only enjoy a glass of wine or beer every once in awhile as it is, but focusing on sucking down water in place of alcohol definitely leaves me feel healthy, refreshed and totally ready to indulge in some bubbly at the finish line. Cheers!
Do any of you runner ladies have other do’s and don’ts before a big race? Tweet me—because I’m keeping a list since I’m not a pro yet! (A do: Cross off calendar days with a colorful pen!)
Follow along every Wednesday and Friday leading up to #WRSNashville to see what other mischief Caitlyn gets into during her runs—and don’t forget to follow @runwrs on Instagram and Twitter for race-day announcements!
*Code valid for half marathon only