Preparing for the half /full marathon:pre-event, during, and post tips
Please feel free to add any tips from your experience in running half / full marathons.
1. Pre-race: the week before try to get enough sleep every night. If you get the pre-race jitters the night before and can't sleep, it won't affect you as much.
In the 1-2 weeks before, you should not be doing any hard training. We've hit the worst of the hills in our training runs. If you're not ready now, that one extra workout is not going to help. In fact, studies show that a proper taper can benefit a runner by as much as 3%. That's about a 5 minute difference in a marathon. Think it doesn't matter? Wait until you miss a pr by 1-2 minutes. If you're not going for pace and this is just another training run for you, then it probably doesn't matter.
2. The night before: eat something that you know you can trust in your system, and try to eat early enough that you can get it out of your system the next morning.
3. The morning of: EAT. Go with what you've been eating for our long training runs. Don't try anything new just because someone at the expo said it was so great.
Warm up: Especially if you are going for a pace. The first few miles of the Seattle half are slightly downhill. That combined with the excitement of the start makes for some fast first miles. Warm up muscles a bit by doing a 10 minute jog with some dynamic stretches (kick butts, etc) and some striders.
AVOIDING the bathroom queue: Go to Center House. The building is heated, and the bathrooms are in the back. You will not have to wait longer than 5-10 minutes because everyone else will be at the port-o-potties in the cold.
4. The Start: The line up at the start: You know your pace. Get up there and stand with them. The start for the half is insanity, and it may take you several minutes to cross the starting line. You have a timing chip on, so don't sweat it. If you're hoping to place in the top 10 of your age group, you should be up in the front 5 rows with the mosh pit.
The gun goes off: and people go tearing out at a pace they will never keep. Feel free to be insane for 1/4 of a mile. Then get your head together, and think about how you want to run the race.
EAT: For half marathoners, you may not feel that you need to eat. A gel at mile 6 will help you up those hills, however. And that gel will help you a lot more than waiting until mile 11 and bonking.
Marathoners: There will be times when your head and stomach will not agree with the idea of taking in food. Ignore them. Eat before you need it. Take something at the first hour and something every 45 mins or so after that. BRING food with you. The course gives away gu at mile 17? 18? and that's it! If you find yourself feeling like you're headed into a valley, eat, drink, and give yourself some time. It will pass. I promise. You have the fitness for this run. Don't let the mental part drag you down.
Marathoners @ 18 miles: There's this terrible story about the "WALL". Don't believe the hype. Yes, a run gets hard as it gets long, but it shouldn't happen so soon unless you've over paced or not taken care of nutritional needs. Embrace the miles as much as possible as you approach 20. If you need to, run from mile marker to mile marker. NEVER think-oh I have another 10k to go. I cannot promise you that there will be no hard miles. But it's possible that there will only be 2-3 of them. Mentally, you can push through that.
Flat, flat, flat...and then...@ mile 7.5 or so and around mile 18 you will start to go up. The first two blocks are on Galer. Consider doing a speed walk on Galer. It is incredibly steep, and unless you are a very strong hill climber, that walk may just pass some runners. The other advantage is that you'll hit the next hill (Madison) with some energy. Madison is not a hard hill, but the fact that you're recovering from that hideous little burst up Galer, makes it harder.
What if I feel like walking? If you're having a terrible day, sometimes it has to happen. It's not the end of the world. If you're not having a terrible day, consider this: Cada and I will be watching for you on the hill. Cada has been so proud of your uphill progress. Don't break the dog's heart. :-)
Descending...Use the descent to pick it up, shake out your arms, relax and recover. Get relaxed because you're about to go up again on Interlaken.
You hit a bad period and feel weak / you went too fast/ whatever-you're in a valley of despair: It won't last. You have to believe that, and know that your training was enough to get you through this. It.Won't. Last. Really truly. Slow down, be nice to yourself, eat, and wait until it passes.
"I'm saving a little something for the end.": What? Don't do that. There's no way that anyone could finish a half / full, see the finish line 100 yards away (across a football field no less!), and not have something left. Kick it in! But remember, they're snapping your picture for posterity (and to charge you $$ for it), so try to show the joy of your accomplishment at that moment.
You don't get the time you wanted:
This is a hard hard hard hard hardest hardy hard hard course. Chances are you won't pr on this course. If you are a strong hill climber, this could be your place to shine. It's a lot of climbing though, and it can really mess up your pace by a minute or more per mile.
Guess what? PR or not, you're still a good runner. You can still probably look at some accomplishment in the course of the training: fastest____ on the track, longest run, did Orcas without walking, etc.
One day, one race, does not define you as an athlete. Months of training, however, do.
You just ran a half marathon / marathon!!! That's amazing. And not only is that amazing, but you did all the training leading up to it. It makes me crazy when people say "oh you did an ironman-wow long day". That's not wow! Months of training for it are wow. Getting up early on a Saturday to meet with a group despite the weather, pushing your pace on a track, and juggling schedules / work / family to keep fitness goals, that's impressive. That's what makes you an athlete.
Post Race: Cross the finish line, smile, snap your picture, sweat, grab water, say hi family, GO GET YOUR CHANGE OF CLOTHES (that you checked pre-race). You have about 10 minutes or less until you start to realize you are getting seriously chilled. Change in the dressing room in the food area. Women, get out of those running bras. Take off any sweaty clothes and put on dry ones.
Go eat a bit. There's chocolate milk usually. In the first 30 minutes, you can do the most to rebuild / repair through nutrition. Get some protein / carbs. You probably won't want a lot. Have a few hundred calories to tide you over until the brunch.
BRUNCH: More on directions / address later. Congratulations super star runners!! Celebrate your accomplishment! Tell your stories of victory! Join us for a feast to celebrate all of your hard work. Get a massage! Soak in a hot tub! Have a cup of coffee! Have a bagel! Have more food. Yay!