I have run my share of races in the 2-ish years that I have been running and made MORE than my fair share of mistakes. In honor of this being a race weekend for me at the Rosarito-Puerto Nuevo Half Marathon, I am going to share with you my Top 10 DON'Ts before a big race. (Also, let's see how many of these I end up doing before my race...)
1. Don't Gorge Yourself on Fast Food- You know what will sabotage a race?? Eating Carl's Jr. fries & chicken fingers and Fatburger fries two hours before a half marathon, like Erin and I did before our evening New Year's Race this last year. You WILL pay for it during your run. That is a truth that I wish I knew before that race. Make sure to keep your hunger in check and make GOOD choices before your race. Easier said than done, but after several times of food-roofieing myself before a race, I have learned my lesson.
2. Don't Go Emo- John Mayer and Sam Smith are great. But unless you are aiming for a slow, emotional walk on the beach- that's probably NOT the music you want to listen to for a race. My favorite music to listen to has a super strong beat and is most likely rap / hip hop. Nothing worse than having to spend energy during the race constantly skipping through songs that are terrible to run to. I have made several playlists for specific events- i have a playlist for long runs and it has all types of music on it. My marathon playlist on the other hand has all my top songs that get me moving. Make a playlist of FAST songs for a race- it makes ALL the difference.
3. Don't See How Many People You Can Fit into One Hotel Room- The night before the race is NOT the time to skimp on sleep or comfort. Learn from me- sleeping in the middle of a queen bed with two of your friends - while comfy and bonding- is not ideal for getting your best sleep the night before a race. I try to get to bed super early before a race, because most likely it'll take me some time (read: SEVERAL hours) to actually fall into a light slumber.
4. Don't Dress for How you WISH the Weather Would Be- Dress for how the weather currently is. Rome marathon was insanely cold and torrentially downpouring. I had picked my race outfit back in the US with ZERO regard for the weather in Rome. When we got to Rome, we learned it was supposed to rain for the race. I tried to positive think my way out of rain for that race. Instead I ended up in a white race shirt soaking wet. NOT ideal.
5. Don't Go Out at a Dream Pace- Go out at the pace you've trained for. Nothing worse than burning yourself out early on in a race trying to chase down world record dreams. Be realistic and know where your fitness is and what you are trained for. Chances are you will have a much better race if you go out and do a race that is within your fitness instead of believing you can hold a Usain Bolt- pace for an entire marathon.
6. Don't Psyche Yourself Out- WITH ANYTHING! It's easy to let worry and anxiety take over before a race- but the best advice I can give- is just to quiet all the noise in your head. Don't stress about any of the things you can't control. That self-doubt can be enough to sabotage MONTHS of training and hard work. Even if the odds seem stacked against you race morning, go in with a good attitude and make the best of it. You may surprise yourself!
7. Don't Leave Everything 'Til the Last Minute- Want to know stress? Wondering if you are going to make it to the start line on time. Many a race has began with me sprinting to my corral. Great way to warmup? Not really. My new resolution is to be better with race morning time management... and maybe wake up just a LITTLEEEEE bit earlier.
8. Don't Wing It- Plan out what you will wear, what you plan on eating the morning of, what you will fuel with- and do this all in advance- that way you're not rushing around the night before the race trying to make magic happen. There is nothing worse than realizing you don't have enough fuel, or forgot your sunglasses. It may be helpful to have a checklist for travel races so you don't forget that ONE thing that makes or breaks your race.
9. Don't Do a Walking Tour of the City the Day Before- As amazing as being in a new city is, save the walking tour for AFTER the big race. Save your legs for the RUNNING TOUR you get to do during the race. Before the Rome Marathon we did the BEST walking tour ever of the city. That did not leave us with fresh legs though for our 26.2 jog through the city the next day. Save the sightseeing for post-race recovery walking.
10. Don't forget- WE DO THIS FOR FUN! As easy as it is to get stressed out/all consumed/overwhelmed with training/racing- this is our hobby (well, unless you are Meb or Kara). It is a blessing and privilege to get to run and on the mornings when my attitude is not on point, I have to remind myself of this. I'm not being waterboarded. I choose to run and it's just a hobby.
Hoping to have a blast in Rosarito this weekend and not stress about times or anything since my legs are pretty dead still post-Cottonwood. Just love the opportunity to get to do a race in a new place. I'm on DAY TWOOOOOO (or what seems like day 1000) of WHOLE 30 and hanging on. Here is the premise of it if you missed it and want to soldier through the 30 days with me. ;-)
Have an amazing weekend!! And get out there and go for a run!