Are you breathless with anticipation? Finding it hard to sleep at night? It’s like waiting for a holiday or birthday celebration: race day is almost here. You have worked hard for weeks preparing for this big event. It’s finally time to put your feet to the pavement and show what you can do. Let’s go over a few last-minute tips as you prepare for the big day.
You’ll likely find lots of people who have advice about what to eat the day before a major athletic challenge. They may recommend carb loading for energy, but Mark McCarthy, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, recommends not diverging from your regular diet.
“From personal experience, your biggest meal should be lunch the day before,” Dr. McCarthy says. “It’s OK to have an extra carb, but do it at lunch instead of dinner.”
Proper foot care is important before putting your feet up to the punishment of a long race. Trim your toenails. Breaking a toenail in a race can ruin your day.
Dr. McCarthy, who has run a couple of marathons, adds that race-day excitement can cause some athletes to try to push harder and run faster than they have during training.
“Runners should do their best to stay within their planned pace,” Dr. McCarthy says. “Mentally prepare yourself to avoid letting the adrenaline rush cause you to leap off of the starting line too quickly.” Once underway, Dr. McCarthy says you should try not to stress about your pace. Realize that some days you will have better runs than other days.
Dr. McCarthy recommends rehydrating at a couple of points along the route. Plan to rehydrate around miles six or seven, and again around miles 13–15.
You should stay alert for signs of heat exhaustion in yourself or in fellow competitors. Notify medical personnel if you or one of your fellow runners experience cramps or lightheadedness, or if you go from profuse sweating to nausea and vomiting. Heat stroke is more dangerous. Rapidly elevated body temperature, a rapid heart rate, rapid breathing and loss of mental capacity all are warning signs of heat stroke. Seek medical attention immediately if you have any of these symptoms.
Once you have finished the race, and we know you will, make sure you rehydrate and take something that replenishes your electrolytes, as well, either in a tablet or a drink.
Here we go. This is what you have been working for, and you are ready. As you wait for the starting signal, take a moment to appreciate how far you have come and have a good time out there.
“Running a marathon should be rewarding and fun,” Dr. McCarthy says. “Enjoy the race.”Read these tips on preparing yourself for the mental challenge of completing a marathon.