Do’s and Don’ts for Race Week

Now that I have had time to really sit back and reflect on everything that happened on Sunday, it’s blaringly apparent why Sunday happened the way it did. 

I am usually a very methodical, organized person in the weeks leading up to a marathon and this was not the case for this race.  Even though it was a “training run” it was a MARATHON and 26.2 miles needs to be respected.  There is a reason I am such a freak so methodical and organized and that lesson was definitely learned.

Now a blog post to make sure I don’t forget these lessons…

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DO: Drink a lot of water and hydrate!

I am always very conscious of upping my fluid intake the week leading up to and the day before a marathon.  Hydration, hydration, hydration! 

DON’T: Drink more coffee than water

I never cut out coffee, but I usually try to limit my intake, at le.  This past week I was stressed and tired and this definitely lead to an increase in my coffee consumption (and big decrease in my water consumption), even the day before the race.   

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DO: Eat healthy carbs and pay attention to eating frequency.

I am always really good at eating healthy and often the days leading up to a race, especially the day before!  I make sure to have food with me always and don’t get too busy to eat.

DON’T: Not pay attention to food consumption or be too busy to eat.

The day before the race I had a bar, coffee, more coffee, a vegan donut, a half bar, then finally many many hours later (after becoming very cranky), some salad and pizza.  I definitely was not prepared and did not do a good job at making sure I was fueling properly for running 26.2 miles the next day. 

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DO: Sleep in the day before a race and relax!

My rule is to not set an alarm the day before a race.  I let myself sleep as long as I can before the excitement kicks in and enjoy some down time and rest.  The rest of the day I try to remain as relaxed as possible and just enjoy doing nothing.

DON’T: Stay up late, set an early alarm, and be active the day before a race.

After getting home late Friday night, I got up really early Saturday morning and spent the rest of the day running around like a maniac.  Although it was all worth it, I should have been smart about it, recognized what was happening and planned accordingly.

This was also the first marathon that I have slept in my own bed, so I wasn’t forced to pack early or think about these things.  Since I was home, I was also distracted by house distractions and definitely think there is a big benefit to staying in a hotel the night before.


DO: Have your stuff set out in advance, have your breakfast ready and have your race day game plan figured out.

I always have my race day outfit, fuel, and electronics all ready to go a couple days in advance so I am not worrying about where things are and what I am going to wear.  My breakfast is always purchased, my playlist is made, and the night before is for relaxing and making sure it’s all in one place.

DON’T: Set your stuff out late the night before, obsess over what you are forgetting, don’t have anything to eat for breakfast, and decide last minute what is going on race morning.

When I got home Saturday night I was scrambling around looking for things all over the house.  Were my favorite socks clean?  Was my sports bra dry?  What flavors of Gu do I have laying around?  The second I would sit down I felt like I was forgetting something, so I would get back up and wander around trying to figure out what that something was.

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DO: Have your mental game ready.  Be excited, be pumped, it’s a marathon!

I am always nervous the day before a race, it just comes with the territory for me.  I get excited, I get pumped, I get nervous… all of those emotions feed into my mental game and get me ready to run 26.2 miles.

DON’T: Be so nonchalant about your race, you forget how far you are actually running.

Since I kept telling myself that this race was a “training run” and because I was so tired from everything else going on during the week, I just didn’t really have much thought about the marathon.  Sure I knew it was happening, but I had too much going on before it, and was so tired, I never got nervous or that butterflies in my stomach feeling I always get before every race.  Obviously my head was not in the game.

So based on all those factors it was obvious that Sunday was not going to go as planned for me.  I wasn’t ready mentally or emotionally and really just needed to say no to a few things in the days leading up to the race.  I definitely was reminded why I am such a freak the week before a race, and I most definitely will be leading up to the Portland Marathon!


All things considered, Sunday actually went pretty freaking well.

Have you made any of these same mistakes before a race?

Tell me I’m not the only one!

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16 Responses to Do’s and Don’ts for Race Week

  1. Samantha August 3, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    You’re definitely not the only one! This is a good list. The day before my first marathon I was walking all over Nashville, exploring the awesome city. WHY would I tire out my legs like that?!

    I need to drink a ton of water the next few days. I have a half marathon in Bend, Oregon this weekend! I better not get too excited about Oregon and go exploring everything the day before.

  2. Sarah August 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Definitely not the only one! I’ve only run 2 marathons and prepped pretty well for the first one but my head just wasn’t in the second one. However, for halfs – I’ve forgotten gu’s and had to buy at the expo, didn’t hydrate properly, didn’t sleep well….etc etc. Good luck with Portland! I’m excited to follow your training; your blog is so helpful and inspiring.

  3. Susan August 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Hi Aron,
    Since you are so involved in this particular race, would it make sense to not actually run it next year, but to fulfill your Ambassador duties and enjoy the race as a spectator instead? It sounds like you were so busy as a host, you couldn’t properly attend to your own needs…I still think you ran a very smart race! :-)

    • Aron August 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

      If I were to do it over, I think I would either run the half, or take Friday off to do the expo, etc if I was going to run the full. Also I could have said no to waking up early Saturday and just been better about preparation in general :)

  4. Sesa August 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Awesome advice! Especially the sleeping bit — I can’t believe I ran the S.F. half on only 2.5 hours of sleep (and only 6 hrs the night before that!). I think I did a good job anyway, but I wonder if I would have done even better had I slept well.

    I also tried to think of S.F. as a training run for my August half in Santa Rosa, but when the race actually started that was out of the window. Eff that, S.F. cost me $100! I didn’t spend all that money on a glorified long run — I had to go all out.

  5. Nicole August 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    I ran my best race in another state, 3 hours behind my normal time zone, in a hotel room with 3 giggly girls. I totally think all that stuff helps make or break your day but if i a good race is in the cards, it will happen regardless. :)

    Do you already have goals for Portland? :)

  6. Meghan August 3, 2011 at 6:28 pm #

    These are great tips! Recently I’ve had to be very deliberate about water intake. I can’t keep up with the heat! I hear you about the comfort of being at home being a bad thing. I ran a half recently and was so nonchalant about it that I ended up leaving late and forgetting my Garmin! Running on my internal pacing clock was not easy!

  7. Celia August 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    My last marathon I walked around DC all day for both days leading up to the marathon. Never again. This time I plan to be in my hotel doing nothing the day before.

  8. Zaneta August 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Thanks for these lessons!! Hopefully, I will be running my first full marathon in October :)

  9. Sarah August 4, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    These are some great tips! I’ll definitely be referring back to these as my race gets closer. The night before my first half marathon I didn’t sleep at all.. I was so tired and I didn’t fuel up properly. Needless to say my race was terrible. I was exhausted and just worn out by mile 7.. bad news. Definitely will not let that happen again. EVER!

  10. marlene August 4, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    The list is great and definitely explains why Sunday was such a tough day. Lessons learned. :)

    I am an absolute freak when it comes to preparing for a marathon and having my “training run” marathon out of town this year definitely forced me to stick with that routine. Scrambling around at the last minute stresses me to the max!

  11. Michelle August 4, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Awesome list, I’ll definitely be looking this over when I participate in my next race (not until October).
    I’m fairly neurotic when it comes to race preparations, but I never seem to get a good nights sleep before. And now I’m going to have a roommate for my next few races, perhaps I’ll have to warn her to go away on race weekends.

  12. Becky @ cityrunnergirl August 4, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Don’t go to your work party just because your bosses guilted you into it!

  13. Carlee August 4, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Oh I think I made all of these mistakes before the Country Music Marathon,
    1. as a vegetarian, I found it hard to eat much of anything in Nashville
    2. Being injured, I didn’t expect much of myself
    3. I didn’t even know at the start line if I was going to do the full or the half.
    4. Still glad I did it and proud I finished, but not proud of the overall mental effort.

  14. Fair Weather Runner August 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    i’ve learned the very hard way that i can’t overdo it the day before a marathon. something i’ve done for every single marathon so far (only three for me). lesson learned for the next one though! you still had a killer race.

  15. Melissa August 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    I think everyone’s been there. And for some reason, maybe because most runners are hard-headed, we will forget and learn the hard way from time to time

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