You will find your own rituals but here are just a few bits of advice that might make the race a little less stressful.
The main bit of advice I would give is that everybody is unique, we are all different and that means that no one is right or wrong, we just have our own values and beliefs and in turn this means we all have our own different goals and reasons for running; and nobody’s way is better or lesser than yours.
You have trained to get to this point so try and get strength from your journey; don’t look sideways to compare yourself to somebody else’s journey, research shows that comparing yourself to others, watching what they do and what they achieve can lead to underperforming and low self-esteem and a real feeling of failure, basically it doesn’t lead you to a good place.
Be prepared and be ready for the day for you, not anyone else, stick to your rituals but here are just a few of mine to help you.
The night before your race eat a sensible meal, drink plenty of water and set out your race gear so it’s all ready for you in the morning. Set 2 alarms just to make sure you don’t over sleep and eat breakfast even if your stomach is churning, try not to eat anything that you haven’t eaten before, you don’t want it reacting to you half way through the race.
Wake up at least 3 hours before starting time and give yourself plenty of time to fuel up, dress, recheck your bags. I always arrive at least 2 hours early as there is too much at stake if you arrive late, large crowds make simple tasks take longer, it’s just the way I am.
If it is warm then stay in the shade as much as possible, if it’s cool, wear a throwaway outfit or plastic bag to keep warm, but don’t overdress as you will warm up as you run.
Don’t waste energy with a running warm up but don’t get stiff by standing for too long either. Every 15 minutes or so move around but don’t stretch before you run.
Know where the starting line is and as the race gets close position yourself so not to get caught in a crowd and not be able to make it to your planned starting spot. Don’t panic, it’s part of the show in big races and everyone is nervous around you.
As the race gets nearer stand with your hands on your hips like you are superman and mentally prepare yourself for what is ahead and tell yourself you are invincible ☺
The race itself
Pacing – You will suffer for a long time if you don’t pace wisely, if you start too fast or surge too quickly you’ll exceed your threshold and waste glycogen supplies, going too fast sets you up for failure, the result being you will either a long struggle over the last several miles or you may even drop out. Run at a comfortable pace for you and only you know what this is.
Follow the process on the race itself and what I mean by this is run the race you are in, run the mile you are in, try not to look at your watch, run on how you feel in that mile, this is the process. Try not to focus on any negatives, yes you might have missed a water station or there may be a 97-year-old Sponge Bob Square pants that has just passed you but don’t let the negative thoughts get in, it will affect your race. Try not to be distracted by outcomes, if you look at your watch too much and start calculating whether what time you are going to finish, what pace you have to go and whether you are going to get a pb or not then this will distract you from the process of actually running the mile you are in.
Take walk breaks if necessary, if you are having a bad day then don’t panic, alternate running with walking if your body just can’t keep running nonstop. Better to finish than stubbornly run until you can’t take another step or cause serious injury.
Ease into the run, see the first 2 miles as a warm up, stay as calm as possible and save your mental energy for the second half of the run. As you ease into the middle section of the run, let your mind wander, but don’t let your pace slip. At halfway see where you are, how do you feel, if you feel good this will give you a mental lift, if you are off a little bit and struggling then readjust your time goal.
Break the last 3 miles down, think mentally it’s an RV session and you can do it. Again just live in the mile and be assured that it will end, as you near the finish line, the crowds will give you a great boost and remember your sprint finish. Find your super strength and use it, it may be a sprint finish, it may be that you never give up no matter what, but focus on your achievement.
As soon as possible after finishing, drink at least 500ml of water and eat some carbs and continue reloading over the next few hours.
Remember most importantly run tall, high hips and pockets to sockets! Trust your training, your body doesn’t know how far it has to run, it will just find the energy to meet the demands of the run so trust this and don’t give in to negative thoughts.
And enjoy xx