1. Buy New Running Shoes
Question...What could be better than sporting shiny new shoes for your finish picture? Answer...Sporting a finisher medal without limping. By now, you should know better than to wear new shoes or socks on race day.
2. Try on A New Outfit
Equipment is essential for a successful event. This mean shoes, socks, shorts, top, number belt, watch or GPS. All of it should follow the No-New-Gear-on-Raceday rule. Not even a new top. Not even a more aerodynamic hat. Comfort above all else will spell success.
3. Change Your Plan
If you trained for the race, you have been likely training for many months. That means you have planned for months. Do not be tempted to switch gears or change plans on race day. If you are planning for a 4:00:00 marathon it is O.K. to shoot for 3:55. But do not follow the 3:40 pace group thinking you will “gain an extra time cushion.” This is a recipe for disaster. Stick to the plan, Stan!
4. Keep Up With the Joneses
The folks around you might be faster than you. Then again, they just might be dumber. Do not attempt to keep up with someone simply because he or she “looks like” someone you “should” be able to beat. Let them disappear on the horizon. You just might pass them on the side of the road in the final few miles.
5. Go Out In a Blaze of Glory
No matter what you do, you will be on fire when the gun goes off. Most will blast off the line. You will be tempted to follow. If you have a GPS, watch it closely and stay on pace. It is worth noting that most world class distance runners produce negative splits when they compete. Follow the experts. Start slow and finish strong.
6. Don’t Drink and Run
You can go for a long, long time without food before you starve. Water is not the same. You must stay hydrated. Hopefully you experimented on you long runs. Drink too much and you will be hurling on the side of the road. Drink too little and you will be sapped. You will be walking before you know it. Drink responsibly.
7. Forget to Fuel the Machine
The “wall” that most marathon runners describe occurs between 18 and 22 miles. The reason for this physiologic barrier is that that is when most people run out of calories. They just plain run out of gas. You must eat on the run. Not Krystal, but GU, Cliff Blocks, Powerbars, or what ever magical but nasty form of energy intake you prefer. Just don’t try a new one on race day. Wear a number belt with elastic loops that holds your gels and they will be in the holster, at your side and ready to keep you fed. I eat GU every 40-45 minutes. Keep track of when it is your time to eat, and eat as you approach the water stop so you can discard the wrapper and wash it down at the aid station.
8. Just One More Long Run
Every endurance athlete struggles with the idea that one more workout or one more long run will somehow make you more “ready.” Hope that your competition does this, but don’t do it yourself. The taper you have been prescribed by your training plan must be followed. It is not optional if you want optimum performance. Trust that you are prepared. Save it for race day.
9. Stay up Late
No matter what you do, you will have trouble sleeping on the eve of the race. This is normal. Just don’t make it worse by watching television until you are “tired enough” to fall asleep. Counts sheep or mile markers, or whatever you do. Get all the rest you can.
10. Forget the Point
On the morning of the your big event, try to remember why you got out of bed every morning to go on long runs. Remember why you ran in the heat, the rain, the dark and the cold. Try to remember why you registered for a marathon in the first place. Keep in mind that it wasn’t just to finish at a certain pace. Don’t forget to have a good time. Take the time (but not too much) to thank the volunteers at the water stations, the lone sentry standing there all day just so you will not have to think about where to turn, and the folks at the finish cheering and screaming your name.
Award Winning Foot and Ankle Surgeon
Stay Fit. Go Long. Run Fast. Be Strong.