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What to Do Before the Race - For Marathon Runners

Before the race.

Before the race, you will undoubtedly feel a bit of nervousness, and this is completely normal. If you know what to expect, however, you can anticipate this stress and avoid it. Make sure you know exactly where to go on race day, and leave yourself plenty of time to get to the start line and warm up properly. Rushing before you even get to the race can put you at a big psychological disadvantage.

Pro-active measures

There are a few things you should do before a race. For a half marathon or longer, lubricate areas prone to chafing, such as feet, underarms, inner thighs, and nipples with petroleum jelly. Also apply sunscreen to expose skin.

You should also establish a landmark near the finish line to meet your friends and family. It can get very crowded near the finish, and you won't feel like walking very far after the race, and you might not be thinking clearly, either.

Positive ritual in warming up

To minimize nervousness and pre-race jitters, you should warm up your race the same way you warm up for a regular run. Your typical warm-up is a subtle form of positive ritual that helps you control your sympathetic nervous system. Straying from your normal routine tells your body that something unusual is happening, which activates your sympathetic nervous system. This elevates your heart rate and blood pressure, causing stress hormones to be released into your bloodstream.

To prevent this, simply warm-up in the way you would you always have. Beginners running relatively short races need only to jog very slowly for 1 - 3 minutes, 15 minutes before the race starts. For longer races than 3 miles, jog for 10 - 15 minutes at a very slow pace, 30 minutes prior to the race. Finish no less than 10 minutes before the race begins. If you have a particular warm method such as running fast for 1 minutes then slow for 3, then do that. This is part of your positive ritual.

Finding your place in the crowd

Many races have staggered start. Races are broken into groups by their estimated finish time, with the fastest runners start in first and the slowest runner starting last. A designated pace maker will run the exact estimated time with each group. Calculate your splits and finish time in advance to determine which time group you should be running with.