The half marathon is my absolute favorite distance. It’s a journey of a lifetime and an attainable distance without too much training and time away from family. Yet you really feel like you’ve made a strong commitment to yourself and the sport.
Here are eight things you shouldn’t forget to do before running your first half marathon. You’re running 13.1 miles! Don’t forget – that last .1 miles is the most difficult. Always save a little something for that last minute or so – enough energy to smile as you sprint across the finish line – and pretend like you aren’t miserable.
Drive the course
Running or driving the course before a race is really helpful. It allows you to carefully plan where you are going to invest your energy. You will be aware of the hills and terrain along the route. It also helps you plan where family and friends can spectate and park along the course.
Pack the nail clippers
Don’t forget to trim your toenails. Keep them nice and short, but don’t trim them too short. Related to this – DON’T get a pedicure in the week or two leading up to your race. The technician may just scrape off your calluses you’ve been working so hard or irritate a blister. Don’t learn this the wrong way and save this pampering session until AFTER your race. Reward yourself.
Brown bag it
If your half marathon is not scheduled in your hometown, always pack your own breakfast. Many runners are creatures of habit and routine. We repeat a lot of the same habits – and our breakfast fueling routine seems no different. I always pack my English muffin, peanut butter and greek yogurt for race day. I stay away from the hotel’s continental breakfast (which is usually not even open before a race anyway) or refrain from stopping at a convenience store. You want to get your stomach set out correctly at the start line and fill fueled the best you can. The only thing I grab from the hotel is my morning cup of coffee.
Body Glide, Vaseline or whatever your choice of lubrication is – use it. Use it between your legs, under your arms and under your bra line – all the way around. You may be surprised where you rub and find friction during a race.
Wear the shirt tomorrow
Don’t wear anything new for your race – including the race shirt. No matter how much you like it or how proud you are of it, just put it in your gear check bag or suitcase and wear it tomorrow. You never want to try anything new on race day. Just wear what’s proven it works, doesn’t chafe or fall-down.
Even though water and sports drink are offered on the race course, always bring your own handheld water bottle or hydration belt that you’ve trained with. You will be grateful that you have these comforts with you at all times during the race. You can always (and will) refill your bottles at the water stations. And you can use them to store your nutrition items, like gels, chews, and gum.
I always suggest that runners take a gel or chew at the start line and then follow up with another at miles five and ten. But, always bring an extra (fourth) packet with you for a half marathon event. I also suggest not trying the gels that are offered on the race course. Just like your clothing, you never want to try anything new on race day.
You can never pack too many shoes, right?
Pack flip-flops and an extra pair of running shoes to wear after your race. You may have blisters, toenail problems or have wet and sweaty shoes. You want to be prepared and comfortable for the walk back to your vehicle and the ride home.