Half Marathon tips to consider leading up to race day and of course on the day itself:
- One of the most important rules to follow….Pace makes for the perfect race!Therefore on race day start at a pace which you know you can maintain as if you go off too quickly you will pay for it later on and be forced to slow up. If anything it is better to start just a little too slowly so as to find an extra surge during the last few miles. There is no better feeling mentally and physically when you know you are in full control and on route to recording a time which befits your true fitness levels.
- Make a check list of everything you need to take with you on race day. Tick it off as you pack any such items into your kit bag.
- Eat some extra good quality (complex) carbohydrates with your meals during the last three days prior to the race. This will ensure that your glycogen levels are fully topped up so as to help you maintain your best effort for 13.1 miles. On race day have a light breakfast such as cereal (porridge oats are good) or perhaps some whole wheat toast with a poached egg about three hours prior to the start of the race.
- Before race day do a dress rehearsal run. The weekend before is usually good. Getup at the time you expect to on race day, have a light breakfast and wear your race day gear. You could even run at the same time of day as to that of when the race starts and even add one or two sections at desired Half Marathon pace so as to get a really good feel for your big day. For the more established athlete, the distance of this run will be dictated by their fitness levels. However, for the first timer, the distance should certainly be no more than two thirds of the Half Marathon Distance followed by a good taper right up to race day.
- Make sure you are hydrated going into the race and drink little and often throughout the run, 150/200 mls every 20 mins should suffice (a little more if the temperature is above normal). Water is key, but a good quality electrolyte/energy drink will also help to maintain hydration and energy levels. If making your own, always keep the concentration/solution to about 7.5% i.e. 35gms of powder to every 500 mls of water. Please note that it is dangerous to over hydrate. The colour of your urine will dictate i.e. clear or straw like is good. For those who might be out on the course for two hours or more, an electrolyte energy gel taken every 45 mins may also help or indeed a small piece of cereal energy bar with water. Do not take anything which you have not already used to good effect in training though.
- Even though for some of you 13.1 miles might be your longest run yet, it is still a good idea to warm up beforehand. Perhaps not quite as vigorously as the more seasoned and elite athletes, but so as to gently increase your heart rate and get the blood flowing and oxygen into the working muscles before the start of the race.
- If you feel a little unsure as to your ability to complete 13.1 miles with regards to perhaps not having done enough training for the race, then do not try and cram extra long miles in during the week leading up to race day. Try to think more positively and be prepared to stick to a walk/run formula, but start the walking sections early on. If you are forced to walk after what may feel like having run into a brick wall, then this will most certainly mean you have gone off too quickly for your current fitness level. A ratio of 15 mins jog to 1 min walk is good. However, if you really do feel that you haven’t done enough training for the event, then perhaps best not to start and look to focus on making sure you get it right next time.
- After the race is over it is a good idea to have a cool down with some gentle stretching to help offset some of the muscle stiffness which is likely to be felt later on in the day or of course the following morning. Maybe even a gentle jog and walk with some stretching. Also drink and eat a little something fairly promptly. An electrolyte energy or more specific recovery drink containing carbohydrates and protein along with any easily digestible foods which you are used to will also further help kick start the refuelling and muscle recovery processes.
- Don’t forget to bring a change of clothing with you. Even if the weather is good on the day, you can soon start to get cold a few minutes after finishing and of course if it is wet and windy then even more reason to have some dry clothes to change into.
- Finally, have a great run and enjoy every moment of it.