In honor of the Cleveland Marathon coming up this weekend, I thought I’d share some of my race rituals. I follow these for every half marathon I run. It’s comforting to follow routine; races can be a little unpredictable, so it’s nice to know that there are some things that I can control. And, who knows, maybe there’s a little luck in routine!
The week before the race:
- SHOP. I take myself shopping for a new running outfit. For the Cleveland Marathon, this is usually because I want something snazzy and new to wear for the race*. This year, however, I had some trouble finding a top that I liked, so I’ll only be wearing my new tights (or shorts – the weather has been so unpredictable this year, who knows.). I think making it through a training plan and running a big race is the perfect time to treat yo’self!
- Prep a playlist. This one is a given. I have a lot of trouble running anything more than a 5K without music. I know some might think this is a weakness, but I need to have tunes or a podcast. I always curate something to the half marathon I’m running and try to get the length of the playlist to match my projected time. It’s fun pressing “shuffle” and seeing what I start and end races with, too. I feel like those particular songs always punctuate the race for me.
The night before the race:
- No beer or greasy foods. I make sure I watch my diet the entire week before the race just to make sure things are going well as far as digestion and hydration go, but I particularly pay attention to what I put in my body the night before. I obviously don’t want to wake up with a hangover or upset stomach, so I don’t drink any booze or eat anything greasy or processed.
- Lay out my outfit. I get so psyched up for the big ones like half marathons that I can become easily flustered. I wouldn’t get ANY sleep if I didn’t lay out my outfit, bib, and basically everything I’ll need for the race.
The day of the race:
- Eat a banana. Like most if not all runners, I fear that I won’t fuel my body correctly prior to a long race. This can end in fatigue or poopy shorts and no one wants either of those. Bananas the morning of the race always work for me and then the water stops and gels during the race keep me going.
- PEE. I try to pee at home and before heading toward the gigantic corral at larger races like half marathons because the port-a-pots are less than ideal and waiting in line for one just gets my nerves going even more.
- Hug and kiss Ernest. Gross, I know. But I’ve been able to hug and kiss Ernest before 5 out of my 7 half marathons so far and I love that. More generally speaking, it’s so nice to just give and receive good luck hugs, texts, and high fives from loved ones and even strangers. Share a laugh, smile, or high five the next time you’re crammed in a starting corral with some strangers. I guarantee you’ll get even more excited for the race and feel great.
- Tell myself that no matter what happens, I’m awesome. Seriously, though. We’ve all had bad races and those can be discouraging. (Hello, hills at the end of the Cleveland Marathon route…) The one thing to remember is that you’re running a race and you’re doing your best. There are always other races and nothing should make you feel bad about what you’re accomplishing.
- Drink a beer. I always have a beer after showering and collecting my emotions and endorphins on half marathon race days. And lots and lots of water, too. Duh.
Cheers and good luck to those also running on Sunday!
*I should probably also note that I always get something I’m familiar with so I’m not running in clothes I’m unsure about. That’s a HUGE no-no. I also stick to the undergarments, socks, and shoes that I’ve been training with.