I am running a Half Marathon tomorrow morning, so I thought I would let you in on where my head is at and what I do to prepare for the race.
This Half is not my goal race. It is only Half of what I'm about to run at the end of May. That is important to note, because mentally I need to look at it as a training run. At this point in my training for the full a half marathon should feel relatively easy. I'm looking at this race as a way to test where I'm at. My goal is to run at my marathon goal pace or slightly faster. If I can achieve that, it will give me the boost I need going into the final weeks of training for my Marathon. I will only have one more run in the 30km range, so knowing I can hold my marathon pace for at least half the time will boost my confidence.
The things I do are simple, but so incredibly important. Running is 80% mental and 20% physical, so to say that I've got my head in the game is an understatement. I'm not planning on winning this thing, but if I were at that level, how I prepare would not be any different. To make things easier to navigate and to prevent a long ramble on my part, I'll list the things I do and have been doing this past week.
1) I've tapered off my running this week to accommodate a fast and hard long run Sunday (the race). I need to taper as though this was my goal race. For me, that means I have taken Thurs,Fri,Sat off running so I am recovered and ready to go Sunday...almost feeling restless and wanting to get out there again.
2) I'm stretching every day, not doing too much physical activity, going to bed early, and trying not to strain any of my muscles. In other words I'm resting.
3) I'm watching my diet. No alcohol, not too much caffeine, drinking plenty of water and packing in the vitamins and minerals. I also make sure I have a lot of L-glutamine in my system. For me this really helps with muscle recovery.
4) I've kept a good watch on the weather so I know what to expect that day. So far it looks like cold and rain so it is good to be prepared.
5) I've checked out the route both with the map on the Internet and in person. This way I can visualize the route and know how far I am going before I hit certain markers. This race is an out and back so it is good to know we are turning around between 10 and 11 kms. I can visualize how I will feel at that point. I also know to expect 4 water stations that I will see twice, and that we will get to see each other as we double back on the same trail to head home.
6) I know what I am wearing, and made sure I have all my supplies. My ipod is charged, and I know where my husband and kids will meet me along the route.
7) I also know what time I will be getting up in the morning and when we need to leave to make it there on time. This alleviates any morning of stress.
8) Finally I will lay out ALL my gear in one pile the night before. This way, on Sunday morning when my nerves are getting the best of me I won't panic about forgetting something. I am one of those people that check and re check my gear, worrying that I've missed something.
9) The best thing I'm doing is reassuring myself that I am ready and strong. I need to remind myself to stick to what I've been doing in training and I'll be just fine. Tomorrow is not the time to not stretch my calves at the 6km mark. I need to remember to slow down in the beginning even though I will feel like a rock star. This will prevent me from tanking near the end. I would much rather END the race feeling like a rock star. If I go too slow in the beginning I can make it up a bit at the end and know that next time I can be confident that I can indeed go faster. I need to be realistic as well. If I have never run 20km at a 4min/km than to expect that kind of a finish will only lead to disappointment. I need to be optimistic, but realistic about what I am capable of.
So that is it. Simple things, but vital things for a good race.