“The waiting is the hardest part”

…or a half marathon, 10k, 5k, 1 mile, relay…(this applies to any race of any size so, all runners, read on!). To my fellow runner friends in, near and coming to Fargo, the countdown is on – only one week until the Fargo Marathon! I don’t know about y’all but I can’t wait. I’m mentally psyched and physically primed, neurotic and emotionally unstable. So, yep, sounds like a typical week before a marathon.

The week before a race, whether a first or fifth, full marathon or 10k, 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 or less. It’s a lot of pressure mixed with anticipation and nerves, capped off with adrenaline – oh it’s so great! I can’t wait for next Saturday.

If you’re like me and all the emotions make you high strung and edgy in the days leading up to the race, or it’s your first race and you need a little help getting ready, I’ve put together a week’s worth of racing to-dos. Yes, this is partially to distract you and keep you busy but a lot of this stuff is really useful and you’ll be glad you did it. Here’s your race week countdown:

Get it ready today & enjoy all week.

Get it ready today & enjoy all week.

Sunday – Food Prep
Today, do your shopping and food prep for the week. 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 eat throughout the week. It will help you retain water and ward off race-day dehydration.

Taking care of your shopping and prep on Sunday gives you one less thing to worry about during the busy week, and sets you up to stick to your nutrition plan through race morning.
Monday – Toenails
Today, trim your toenails. Not too short but a good trim. Trust me. Do it

Tuesday – 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 line and finish line are, and where to park. You’ll also want to 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).

You can also check out the course map – or don’t if you like to be surprised.
Wednesday – Shopping
Today, go buy stuff (if you need it). 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 any new clothes you might need. Why today? If you do buy something new, it’s risky to wear anything for the first time on race day. You just never know how things will move with you, where they’ll rub and what could be a major chafing hazard. The upside of shopping today: if you must get something new, you at least have the opportunity try it out tonight or tomorrow during your final low-mileage run.

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. And he wore them for the race. And – he claims – he had no discomfort at all. So if you’re “that” guy, go ahead and sport those new kicks straight out the box.

Pasta - giving runners an excuse to carb load for years.

Pasta – giving runners an excuse to carb load for years.

Thursday – The Big Meal
Today, eat your biggest dinner. What that dinner is, that’s your call. Everyone’s eating plan is different and I’m not here to tell you that you should be eating certain foods. 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 on Thursday night. That gives your stomach time to settle and fully digest so you don’t feel heavy on race day.
Friday – Stuff And Rest
Today, organize your stuff, then rest. Pick up your race packet. It will have your bib, chip, important info about race day and of course some goodies to enjoy. 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, lay out everything you need for the next morning. In addition to your bib and chip, your watch, outfit, chapstick – even your shoes. Have it all ready to go so you don’t have to think about anything except getting to the start line.

Also, set three alarms. Yes, three. Set three alarms. I’ve referenced it before and it’s worth repeating – let’s not forget what happened in the Hot Tub episode of Seinfeld: Elaine hosts marathon runner, Jean Paul, before the New York City Marathon. After Jean-Paul overslept at the Olympics and missed the marathon, Jerry is overly concerned it will happen again and takes every precaution he feels necessary. Because Kramer lives next door, you know shenanigans of course ensue, and Jean-Paul oversleeps again. Don’t let that happen to you.

And speaking of don’ts, 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.

Saturday – Kick Some Ass
‘Nuff said.
Good luck to everyone running in the Fargo Marathon this weekend! It’s a great race with awesome volunteers and the best spectators so enjoy it. And be sure to celebrate after.

If you have questions – or some good tips of your own – about how to get through pre-race week, please comment below or tweet me @runlikeagirl311.


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