These are the things that I as a runner, from short runs to a full marathon, swear by for training. The marathon is one short day (or long day, I suppose), but the months of training leading up to it are full of trials and errors. If you're like me, and often feel short on time and resources, my tips and tools may help you out. These are most own preferences, so play around with what works for you. My first tip is to test out strategies and tools well before race day. Preparation is key, folks!
I've divided my tips into training days (the timeframe before a race when you are training (including rest days) and race days (the actual day of the race from pre-race to post-race). Feel free to pull what sounds good to you and give it a go!
1. Handheld water. May of you hate this; I hate the jostling waist-belts of water bottles. The look, the feel, the sound...don't get me started. A small handheld or simply waiting for aid stations (my race day preference) is my go-to. This one holds a tiny snack and phone. Perfection
2. A super lightweight neon vest. I have 6,000 reflective and obnoxiously hued jackets and vests for running in dusk/dark. I recommend finding the lightest and most breathable one with a ZIPPERED pocket. (Have you lost a car key somewhere along your long run? I don't recommend it). The pocket is vital: a tiny bit of toilet paper, a key, pepper spray, a tampon: whatever is essential for you. I like this one because you don't notice it, which is basically the best part. The good news is, every car will notice you.
3. Easily Digestible Protein Powder. Most of us have our favorite protein powders, and now is the perfect time to incorporate more protein into your diet. I like the plant-based Orgain ones because of the smooth and creamy texture and non-gritty taste, but find one that your body performs well on. On those extra active days, it's easily to overload on carb and fat, but try some protein first. Tons of water and protein is how I feel best while training. Good carbs are important too of course, but it's not necessary to pound pasta before a race. Many people, especially women I've spoken with, lament that they put on weight during training and my advice is always drink water first, then aim for a light protein meal. It's easy to spend your run fantasizing about waffles, but that's not likely to shave minutes off your run or benefit your joints any.
4. Get a Practice Half In. Test your fitness and mental readiness with a half marathon race a month or so into training. It'll jazz you up for the big day and give you helpful cues on what you might want to focus on.
5. Foam Roll. This is vital, for recovering muscles and helping your flexibility, muscle tone and recovery. You. Must. Foam. Roll. Work it into your daily routine!
6. Get up earlier than you think and eat what you're used to/have eaten before your longest run. This is not, I repeat NOT the day to try a new food or recipe, especially if you have a sensitive stomach. Yes, please give my plant-based recipes a try, but do it before race weekend. My energy bites and peppermint protein bites are excellent training season go-to's and even race day breakfast IF you've had it before. If not, stick with a banana and almond butter. Foolproof.
7. If it's rainy, a garbage bag. That's right, to wear. This is easily tossed if not needed, or worked into a temporarily poncho if necessary. Yes a lightweight technical jacket is preferably, but for marathons out of state when you forget your fancy jacket, or those mornings when it's lightly drizzling before you start, this easy throwaway option is key.
8. Earbuds. I hate the wrap-around ear ones, but some people love them. For me, I prefer these 2-Pack in case one pair dies but water resistant can also be super important. If you're running the Eugene Marathon for example, you better be prepared for rain. If you're like me, you need ABBA or a good audiobook to push through those last miles; without quality headphones, I'm a much sadder slower runner. Truth!
9. Lodging. Whether it's a friend's place or hotel, staying within walking distance of the race is optimal (especially of tons of traffic gives you anxiety!) There's certain to be roads closed and tons of pedestrian and car traffic on race day. Last year I walked/warmed up on my mile and a half walk to the race start and it was perfect. Spending at least one night before race day eve and getting comfortable in your surroundings is a great strategy for getting better sleep, too.
10. Find a moment of peace before the start. Get some quiet space, and gently stretch 15 minutes or so before the start. Start the race nice and easy but calm; please don't try a new yoga move before the start. (I feel like that's an obvious tip, but trying to pull full splits at the starting line would be a bad move for most people). Take deep breaths, tell yourself an encouraging mantra and stretch gently.
Use my code MAIAHEM19 for $10 off the half or full Eugene Marathon. It's the best race for beginner marathoners in my humble opinion.
Let me know too, what works for you? I love learning new habits, tricks and items to motivate and encourage me on those long runs. Good luck this training and race season, friends!