Practice Makes Perfect

Can you believe fall is almost here?  I hate to think about it.  I love summer and I feel like I missed out on a lot of my favorite summer activities this year.  But the good news is that fall racing season and more importantly,especially fall marathons are really just around the corner.  This is an exciting time for runners.

With only a few weeks left in most athlete’s race training, now is the time to perfect your game plan.  Things you need to consider are what you will be eating in the days prior to and immediately before your race, what you will wear, how you will attack your run, and any other potential things you might need to plan ahead for.

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The best way to really prepare for race day is to treat each long run as a dress rehearsal for the big day and to use your weekly eating and hydration as a measure for what you will need on game day.  Now is the time to determine just how much water you need during the week to avoid overheating during your long run.  Fridays should be the time to figure out what dinner fuels you the best for the following morning.

One of the most important factors you should have figured out by now is what you will eat the morning of your long run.  It would be unwise to eat something different each Saturday or to pick out a breakfast on a whim before your run.  Plan it out and decide what will keep you fueled the longest and won’t upset your stomach.  If you stick to the same food and after a few weeks find out that it no longer works for you, switch it up.  But once you know what works, stick with it and train your body to handle this.

I love wearing new running outfits, but now is also the time to figure out which outfit feels comfortable, makes you feel good about yourself, and most importantly doesn’t chafe.  Once you have found the perfect outfit, start wearing it for every long run to make sure that it lasts right along with you during the heavy mileage.  The same goes for fuel belts,  Experiment and find the one that carries what you need and doesn’t chafe and then wear it every time.

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Fuel and hydration during the long run are extremely important.  Some athletes love Gu and many tell me that it runs right through them.  By now you should have your fuel of choice picked out.  Have that on hand for every run and stick to the game plan.

Another factor to keep in mind is the weather.  Right now it is hot and humid in most places but in a few weeks it could easily be dry and chilly.  Last year on the final long run before the Chicago Marathon we actually had snow!  I hate to even think about that.

Do you have a rainy day game plan?  Have you had the chance to run in the rain yet?  If you come across a day of inclement weather, don’t avoid your run.  Use this as a time to figure out how you will race in the rain.  This past June Rock ran Grandma’s Marathon.  At the start of the race it didn’t just rain, it down poured.  Fortunately, Rock had done several rainy runs leading up to the race and felt confident that he could handle the weather.  He did plan ahead and grabbed an emergency poncho to wear while he waited at the start line.

Finally, remember that most long runs are meant to be done at a slower pace than you will be racing.  But do keep in mind that you can still use these long runs as dress rehearsals for game day.  Know when you will need to stop for fuel, hydration, or even a porta potty.  Get to know your body and when you will start to struggle.  Being prepared allows you to have a plan of action.

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Practice truly makes perfect.  Planning ahead now and staying consistent with your plan will ensure a successful race day.

How do you prepare for race day?

17 thoughts on “Practice Makes Perfect

  1. Great advice! Also runners should find out what kind of aid will be at the stations. I can drink Gatorade, but not Powerade (and I can’t taste the difference, so I wouldn’t be able to find out on the course until it was too late).

    • This is excellent advice. Definitely find out before you go. You never want to have something on the course that you don’t know and already use. That’s a recipe for disaster.

  2. Such good reminders as fall race season is upon us. I have a few friends preparing for their first races and I will send this to them. You laid everything out perfectly here!! Although I am known for buying a new outfit the day before and wearing it. You’d think I’d learn the chafing thing by now!!!

    • Thanks for sharing. I totally understand the new running clothes thing. I always think I am exception to the rule and get something new too. It’s an addiction, the whole running clothes thing.

  3. I love all your advice! One of my issues is staying calm the day/night before. I usually try and picture the event happening in my head so I’m not as anxious about it actually happening.

  4. Well, if we are going to be running a fatll race… we’ve definitely had good prep for it! When I was getting ready to run Phoenix and it was ass crack freezing outside, I felt a bit bad about bringing runs indoors. But then I realized that it actually was great prep for me, and the race was at about the same temps!

    • That is fantastic. Rainy training is so important. You need to know what it feels like and of your body prefers something or needs anything to handle the rain. Short races are so great for training too.

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