“It seems I’m spending so much time…waiting…”

I can’t believe I’m saying this but it’s time to run the Chicago Marathon! My fellow runner friends, the countdown is on.

I’ve said it before and it’s still true, the week before a race is always tough. All the weeks, months, even years of hard training, come down to one day. Actually, one morning. Actually, just a few hours. It’s a lot of pressure mixed with nerves and anticipation – it’s so close but you’re still counting down, waiting for the big day.

Marathon week is a lot like standing on the edge of Chicago’s Willis Tower

Whether your emotions are getting the best of you in these last few days leading up to the race, or it’s your first race and you need a little help preparing, I’ve put together a week’s worth of pre-race to-dos. Yes, this is partially to distract and keep you busy but a lot of this stuff is really useful and you’ll be glad you did it.

Monday – Food Prep
Today, do your shopping and food prep. Not only do you want to stock up on all the foods you’re familiar with, you know sit well with you, and give you energy, you might want to make selections based on the weather forecast. For example, if it’s going to be hot and humid on race day, buy a few extra salty food options to help retain water and ward off race-day dehydration. And a couple extra bottles of Gatorade, always a good idea.

If you’re traveling to Chicago like me, be sure to plan ahead for snacks and foods you can bring with you.

Tuesday – Toenails
Today, trim your toenails. Not too short but a good trim. Trust me. Do it
Wednesday – Check And Plan
Today, go online and review all the location details of the race so you have a clear idea of where everything is happening. This includes where to pick up your packet, where the start and finish lines are, and where to park.

A few other things you may want to do is figure out the best route to get to the course and alternate routes to account for heavy traffic on major roads. Find out if and where the bathrooms will be on race day. Also, find out if there’s a bag drop or if you need to leave stuff in your car (that will determine what you bring with to the race). Lastly, you can also check out the course map – or don’t if you like to be surprised.

Thursday – Shopping
Today, go buy stuff like Band-aids, BodyGlide, sunscreen, gum, anything you might need for race day. By now, you should have a good idea of what the weather is going to be like so, if need be, now is also your last chance to shop for new clothes. Why today? If you do buy something new, you have the opportunity to try it out on one of your last runs. You never know how things will move with you, where they’ll rub, or what could be a major chafing hazard, and you don’t want to be stuck with that for 26.2.

One thing I wouldn’t recommend buying this close to race day: shoes. But, like I always say, different strokes for different folks. One year, my friend Jason bought a new pair of shoes the day before we ran a half marathon. He wore them for the race and – claims – he had no discomfort at all. So if you’re “that” guy or gal, go ahead and sport those new kicks straight out the box.

It sounds cliche but pasta, zucchini noodles, & veggies is still a pre-marathon fave

Friday – The Big Meal
Today, eat your biggest dinner. What that dinner is, that’s your call. Some people carb-load. Others believe in fat-loading. Some don’t care what they eat at all. But it’s still usually a good idea to have your biggest meal today vs. tomorrow. That gives your stomach time to settle and fully digest so you don’t feel heavy on race day.

Saturday – Stuff And Rest
Today, organize your stuff, then rest. Pick up your race packet. If packet pickup is at the same location as the race start and/or end, bonus, as you get a chance to navigate the area before the chaos of race morning.

Before you head to bed, set your alarms and lay out everything you need for the next morning. In addition to your bib, your watch, outfit, chapstick – even your shoes. Have it all ready to go so you don’t have to think about anything tomorrow morning except getting to the start line. And speaking of bed, don’t worry if you can’t sleep. With all the nerves, excitement and anticipation, most runners don’t sleep well the night before a race.

Sunday – Kick Some Ass
Enjoy the run, thank volunteers and spectators, and be sure to celebrate after. I’m counting on my fam, the locals, to take us to the best pizza place for a post-run meal.

Good luck, Chicago Marathon runners! If you have other pre-race questions, or some good tips of your own to get through pre-race week, comment below or tweet me @LindsayIRL. Please share your Chicago Marathon photos on Instagram an Twitter with hasthtag #wellirl.


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