Race Day Preparation: 10 Tips for Running a Half Marathon

Runners Race Day

Kansas City’s oldest Road Race and 41st annual Hospital Hill Half Marathon & 10k is right around the corner, which means race day for me. As I sit here reflecting on whether my last few months of training is enough to help me face this challenge, I cannot help but wonder why in the world I signed up to run on a hill that has its own name?

While I try to get my mind mentally ready for tomorrow, I recall lessons learned from previous runs that make good general tips for race day, regardless of distance. Please note, I run to stay active and motivated to achieve one goal at a time (and maybe I also run for medals). If you are a serious runner seeking PRs and placing, some of these may not apply to you.

  1. Apply Vaseline or Body Glide to prevent chaffing. I just use Vaseline, because I have it on hand. I apply it between my thighs and under my arms.
  2. Start slow. So slow that you feel like you are in slow motion. Do not bolt from the starting line looking like Flash DC, and expend all your energy in the beginning. This is the time to set your breathe and get your legs warmed up. Your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, …winds will be that much better.
  3. Use your breath to work through pain. Wherever the pain may be, breathe through it. Your breath is very powerful and can be used to work through any discomfort.
  4. Don’t stop at every water station. For me, it is hard to get going again when I stop. I usually wait until mile 5 or 6 for water. [This may be specific to me, listen to your body!]
  5. Don’t forget to smile. Our bodies follow our facial expression, which has great influence over our mood and tension. Smiling will lighten the mood and release tension.
  6. Use jazz hands to encourage blood flow. A lot of us inadvertently tend to tighten up our arms when running. Give them a break by raising your arms and wiggling your fingers. Treat yourself to some positive energy.
  7. Get your Rocky on. A good tip for running form is to keep your body in one plane, arms and legs. The pumping forward movement of your arms help your legs and momentum. Sometimes, I find that my arms become stagnant, or at least not moving like they should. So I throw a few air punches to get them going again. 
  8. Smile for the camera. There will be a photographer somewhere along the course and at the finish line. Smile big and show your pearly whites. Action photos may be expensive to order, but it is nice to have the option.
  9. Don’t be afraid of high fives. Kids, adults, and volunteers will be available for high fives. Don’t be scared. Have you ever had a high five that wasn’t fun? Heck, even some of the other runners can probably use one. Do not underestimate the power of the human touch.
  10. Try singing out loud. My last two long runs were rather…well…long. After mile 8, it can get challenging and mundane. So, I sang out loud: “because a hustler’s work is never through~we making it because we making moves~work hard~play hard”. That’s my jam! I got few weird looks from my neighbors, but it made me smile and actually sent a surge of energy through my body. People may look at you funny, but who cares.

I know some of these seem silly, but they work for me. What are your lessons learned? What tips do you have to add?

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