Photo by Lululemon Athletica on Flicker

Photo by Lululemon Athletica on Flicker

You’ve done months of training and the big race is almost here.  The days leading up to the race are just as important and the weeks and months of training.  Be prepared.  Read our recommendations for the week before the race and the day of.  Our coach Lorna has also included some tips for the Amsterdam Marathon.  See below.

The Week Before the Race

  • Eat a healthful, balanced diet. You’ll especially want to increase the carbohydrates in your diet, to make sure your muscles’ stores of glycogen are topped off.
  • Hydrate. Hydration is especially important the week prior to a race, but be aware of the dangers of over hydration.  Include a sports drink to keep your electrolytes in check.  Alcohol can contribute to dehydration and it has been found to adversely contribute to an athlete’s performance.
  • Plan your race strategyIf you’re a first timer, we recommend to go for a finish.  For experienced racers with a time goal, think through your race–at what times or paces do you plan to complete key milestones in the race, such as 5K marks, and when you plan to increase your pace for the finish. Write down your planned split times for these key milestones and spend some time visualizing yourself following your plan and completing the race exactly as you hoped. Plan your race and race your plan, but be flexible. Remember a proper race plan includes negative splits.
  • Run for others. Make your race more meaningful and run for your friends, family, or lost loved-ones.  Break down your race into parts and dedicate the parts to people who will power you through.
  • Choose your race-day mantra that you can repeat to yourself when you feel tired or need a boost.  I repeat the chorus of James Brown’s “I Feel Good.”
  • Eliminate distractions and reduce outside stressors
  • Get plenty of sleep to allow your body to fully recover from your training, and to be fresh for the upcoming race. The night before a race, you may experience pre-race jitters and have trouble sleeping.  It’s more important to consider the days preceding the race.  Get adequate rest the two nights before or, even better, a week of good rest.
  • Pick up your race packet
  • Create a checklist of everything you’ll need for the race, including clothes, shoes, food, etc.

The Day Before the Race

  • Stay off your feet as much as possible the day before the race.
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Eat a healthful carbohydrate dinner, but not a large quantity so that you sleep well and don’t risk an upset stomach a bloated feeling. Do majority of your fueling-up two nights before.
  • Check the weather and keep an open mind about adjusting your race goals.
  • Prepare your race-day bag. If the race organizers provide a clothing drop-off service and you plan to use it, make sure that both your name and race number are on the bag.
  • Repeat your visualizations of your race plan and how you will succeed in the upcoming race. You want the positive imagery well ingrained in your memory, so that you can take advantage of it during the race.
  • Lay out your race-day kit. Pin your race number to the front of your shirt, shorts, or attach it to your belt.
  • Set 2 alarms (one battery powered) just in case
  • Relax. Try some very light yoga, a warm bath, or herbal tea.

photo 2 (Custom)

Race Day

  • Don’t try anything new
  • Eat your standard breakfast
  • Continue to hydrate with water and sport drink, but don’t overdo it
  • Stick to the same food and drink that has been working for you during training
  • No coffee or caffeinated beverages if you’re not used to them
  • Arrive early.  Allow yourself time to find the bag drop, toilets, your running mates, and get to the starting line without any stress.  There will be thousands of people.
  • Wear an extra layer to keep warm before the start.  Find a toss-away shirt or sweatshirt, or cut holes in a trash bag to put over your clothing that you can toss once you start.

During the Race

  • Don’t allow the excitement or faster participants to pull you along too fast
  • Pay attention to how you feel.   Ask yourself: do I need to slow down, how am I doing, do I need to speed it up a little, do I need sport drink, etc.
  • Slow down if you experience pain or if feel you are overworking.
  • If you feel good early in the race, don’t use that as an excuse to deviate from your race plan
  • Don’t skip drink stations. Drink water and sports drinks at every aid station. Squeeze the top of the cup to narrow the opening and allow you to drink while running without spilling water all over yourself. Or walk the aid stations to drink.  Time saved by skipping aid stations won’t matter if the end result is dehydration.
  • Smile for the camera.
  • Have fun! Enjoy the atmosphere.
  • Remember: when your legs get tired, run with your heart.

 Post Race

  • Change into dry clothes as soon as possible
  • Drink water and sports drinks to replace fluids immediately
  • Have some form of carbohydrates within 30 minutes after finishing
  • Refuel with a meal of carbohydrates and protein
  • Rehydrate the rest of the day with sport drink and water
  • Refresh legs and speed recovery with a cool bath, or ice bath
  • Celebrate your victory and congratulate yourself for all your hard work!
  • Evaluate your race and set a goal for your next one.

amsterdam medals

Tips for the Amsterdam Marathon

  • You don’t have to queue for toilets outside the stadium as there are more toilets inside.
  • It takes ages to get into the stadium so make sure you get there in plenty time so you don’t feel rushed (especially if you don’t like crowded areas).
  • Don’t rely on being able to find the pacers (just consider it a bonus).  But if you want to find them, look for them on the grassy area in the middle of the stadium before going into your designated corral.  Meet them there and then follow them into the corral.
  • There is a running shop at the Olympic stadium (to the right of the main entrance) in case you need to buy any last-minute items.

Got comments or tips you’d like to share?  Please let us know in the comments below.  We’d love to hear from you.

Laurie Villarreal

Laurie’s an accomplished endurance athlete and has been running since 1998. She’s the founder of House of Running and a professional Running Coach, a certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and Health & Wellness Coach. Laurie’s trained and worked with nearly 1000 runners since 2010. She’s a master in her field with over 10,000 hours of run coaching experience. Laurie helps ambitious professionals make running part of their healthy lifestyle through on-on-one online coaching and fun group training programs. She has a unique holistic approach to running, helping her runners think beyond running to realize their running dreams. Click here to find out how to work with Laurie in one-on-one online coaching.

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