The NYC marathon is right around the corner! This Sunday, New York boroughs will be crowded with competitors. After months of careful training, specific race day preparation is often over looked. Long races can pose many physical and mental stresses (besides the obvious running) and it’s very beneficial to plan your day ahead of time.
Starting with clothing, what is the day’s forecast? While ideal marathon conditions would be 50 degrees and overcast, we can’t count on being so lucky. If it’s cold, you may want to have old warm clothes you don’t mind leaving at the starting line if you have to line up ahead of your race time. Wicking, or “dry fit,” material is ideal; as it will help evaporate moisture so your clothes aren’t damp from sweat for the entire race. Race day is not a time to try anything new! Stick with the shoes, sports bra, etc. that you know are comfortable and don’t rub or chafe.
With cooler fall temperatures, it’s easy to forget about sun protection. If it’s a sunny day, sunscreen is a must; your body will be in enough discomfort post-race without a sunburn. Come up with a plan prior to the race for family or friends to meet you at the finish with dry clothing.
Breakfast the morning of should be high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the body’s most easily accessed fuel, and therefor it’s preferred fuel source. You’ll want to make sure you give yourself a couple of hours to digest before the race. Similarly, fluids can be discontinued an hour prior to the race so you’re not making a pit stop twenty minutes in. Your body should be adequately hydrated leading up to the race; this is easily determined by making sure your urine is clear or a pale yellow color. It is important to remain hydrated throughout the marathon, but stopping at every station is excessive. Over hydrating can lead to low-electrolyte levels, called hyponatremia.
Decide in advance your method for refueling during the race.
It is suggested that you take in carbohydrates within 45-75 minutes after starting the race, as to avoid “hitting the wall.” If you are consuming concentrated forms of carbs, as is done for long races, it is best to follow with water to ease the strain of sugar on the digestive system. Following the race, eat or drink about 300 calories and some protein within an hour. Slowly drink fluids to rehydrate. Eat a full meal as soon as you are able to. Runnersworld.com has some very informative resources on pre-, during, and post-race meals.
Marathon preparation is so much more than just miles logged training. By coming up with a plan prior to race day, you can ensure that you don’t need to make last minute decisions. Carefully planning a race day outfit and pre-, during and post-race meals will allow you to preform your best at what you’ve been devoting so much time to these past months.