Why do we have a fear of being the last one. You put in the effort, your out on the course longer (which takes lots of endurance) and some how we feel like we’ve failed. Over the weekend I ran a half marathon and in the process crossed the finish line with a PR, as wonderful as that is, It wasn’t the highlight of my day. There were several of us that made the journey to this race and after I crossed the finish line they were still out on the course. A friend that had competed in the 5K event while we did the longer course and I went back out walking the course in reverse to give support to our other fellow athletes. A long the way we met lots of new friends and cheered them on as well. Once we made sure all of our group had come across the finish line we took part in group pictures and recalled the ups and downs of the race (in this particular race there where a lot). We had just started walking away to leave when they announced that there was runner(s) coming in and the last runner(s) had crossed the 12 mile marker. At that moment we all turned around went out on the course and formed two lines in front of the finish line to cheer. The looks on their faces of seeing that finish line, smiles so bright it pulls at you. Then several minutes later at the top of the hill with the golf cart and lights going behind them the very last bunch of runners. At this point the clock read 4:34:02, we all screamed, cheered, clapped them in from the top of the hill to the high fives right before they crossed the finish line. I don’t know about them but my emotions ran over for them. It has been one of the most amazing experiences for me as runner to be able to see the determination on their faces and those huge grins when they crossed that line. There is no shame in ever being the last one out, the only shame is in never getting out there and giving it a try.
It’s race day! You’ll probably be feeling a mix of emotions nerve, excitement, fear or all of the above and more rolled into one. Here are some tips to get you to the starting line of your half marathon feeling calm and relaxed.
Get up early and leave plenty of time for breakfast and to get to the start. The last thing you want to do is rush to the venue. Go through your race details of where to drop your kit off and where the starting pen is. Have one last look at the half marathon course details including water stations.
Do a last-minute check of your kit bag make sure you have your shoes, clothes, race number with safety pins attached, timing chip if not already attached to your shoes, water bottle and food. Make sure your kit bag has extra layers for after the race and some dry clothes encase it’s a wet race.
Two – Four hours before the half marathon:
Eat a breakfast you’ve had before don’t try anything new, you don’t want an upset stomach. Try to eat 2?4 hrs before the starting time and aim for 1000 calories. Eat a combination of simple carbs with some protein for example bread/bagels, cereal, nut butter, low-fat yogurt, or milk. If you can’t stomach food try a fruit based smoothie.
Two Hours – Thirty minutes before the half marathon:
Have a pre-event massage 2 hr ? 30 mins before the race. The massage should be light and up-tempo to aid the runner in getting their muscles warm and ready for the race. The theory is to increase the blood going to the muscles. It also has been suggested to improve focus and relax before the race. The practitioner can also help with some dynamic stretches. It should not be used instead of a good warm up and stretches but to complement it. If you want some more information about how sports massage can benefit you check out my blog post on Sport Massage.
Up to one hour before the half marathon:
Keep your fluid intake up and drink 500?700 ml up to the hour before and then no more than 200ml 30 mins before. While you need to make sure you’re properly hydrated before you start, you don’t want to over hydrate or have to stop and take a pit stop mid half marathon.
Thirty – forty-five minutes before the half marathon:
Have a good warm up and stretch. Never stretch cold muscles always go for a light 5-minute jog before hand. Do the same warm-up you are used to and get into your normal pre-race/run routine. For more tips on advice on warming up check out my guide to the importance of warming up.
Up to thirty minutes before the half marathon:
Drink around 200ml this will be your last main fluid intake till the start of the race.
Twenty to thirty minutes before the half marathon:
Go to the start early, hand in your kit bag and have an old track suit or old foil blanket, to stay warm at the start but something you can just get rid off. Get to the pen 20-30 mins before the start so you know you don’t have to rush or add any extra anxiety.
Two minutes before the half marathon:
Leave it to the last few minutes to take your old kit off.
Most importantly enjoy the race!!
You can download this guide at: The A State of Health Clinic’s Website.
For other articles on Half marathons check out: What to do the week before, what to do after a half marathon