training tips

Race Week Tips

With the Portland Marathon this Sunday and many other marathons and half marathons scattered throughout the rest of this month and into November, it's time to get serious about race week prep. Surprise - it's not all about running!
Here are a few tips and strategies for your race week and on race day:

  1. Sleep. Go to bed a bit earlier this week. Shut off the computer and the TV and give yourself a few extra hours of rest. The two nights before the half marathon is when quality sleep matters the most. You’ll most likely be too amped up the night before the race to sleep well or for very long anyway.
  2. Rest. If an injury is starting to flare up, take a few extra days off instead of worrying about getting your final runs in. Your primary goal this week is to do everything possible to get your body feeling fresh and ready to run on race day. Your fitness is already established, so any running at this point isn't going to get you in better shape for race day.
  3. The Expo. Race expos are fun and it’s a great way to check out new gear and products. Take advantage of the bargain prices but never, ever wear anything that you bought at the expo on race day. Stick with what you know! The same goes for the food samples, buy some to try after the race but don’t eat anything new on race day. Also, avoid eating too many of the free samples of sports drink and energy foods – you don’t know how they will react with your stomach.
  4. The Day Before. Either walk around for 20-30 minutes or jog for 2 miles. Avoid spending hours at the expo. Get home, put your feet up and rest!
  5. Race Morning. Aim to drink about 16 oz of water the morning of the race (about 2 hours before). This is enough time for the water to pass through your system. Eat your normal pre-long run breakfast about 1 hour before your start time.  You might want to wear an extra layer and some gloves or socks for your hands that you can toss at the beginning of the race (tossed clothes are collected and donated). For extra cold mornings, bring hand warmers for your feet and hands - just don't forget to take them out of your shoes before you start running!
  6. Know Your Race: Familiarize yourself with where the water, refueling and medical aid stations are on the course. This information is usually found under the course description section on the race website.
  7. Run Your Race. Don’t allow your adrenaline to take over at the start. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the start and run faster than planned. At the start and during the first few miles, ignore everyone around you and focus on your pace and your strategy. Let people pass you – stay on your pace. You’ll be passing those people soon enough! It’s better to start 1 minute too slow than 1 minute too fast. One minute too fast will zap your energy and most likely cause you to hit “the wall” earlier in the race.
  8. Post Race. Get warm and get food and water immediately after crossing the finish. Take the mylar blanket and grab food.  (Bananas, energy bars, sports drinks, fruit, and bagels are all good options). Even if you can’t eat immediately, you’ll need to put something into your system with 30 minutes of finishing. If you're checking a bag, then put some post-race food in this so you don't have to rely on the food provided by the race.

And last, but not least, trust your training. You put in the time and the effort and that is what matters come race day. You can’t control the weather, the crowds, the temperature. You can control how you choose to deal with those factors on race day. Believe in yourself and your hard work and dedication will shine through! 

Good luck runners!

Start Where You Are


You have to begin training based on where you are at today, not where you were 3 months ago or based on an older personal best time. It can be difficult to start back up when you are use to performing at an optimal level. When I started training for my October half-marathon, I wanted my tempo and track times to be the same times I had been running in March and April. My legs didn't agree with me! They knew it was too much, too soon. Over the past 8 weeks, I've built back up to my fast tempo times and my previous track times. I love this motivational quote because it reminds me, in the moment, to use what I have and do what I can. It's not always smooth going or happy sailing as you are building back up and training for a race, but recognizing where your fitness level is and drawing on your past will get you the results you want because you are doing it safely.

Training tip of the week

Many of us have our running routes and that's what we stick with - over and over, week after week. Changing up your running route offers many incentives: a different view, a change of pace and importantly, the opportunity to run on a different surface. Switching up the surface you run on will give your body a break and hopefully elongate your running career!

We recommend that runners find different surfaces for their weekly runs as it gives your muscles and joints a break from all the pounding. Concrete (sidewalk) is the hardest surface and thus, most jarring on your joints. Pavement (asphalt) is a bit more giving and the better option over sidewalks if possible. If you have access to a dirt path or a grassy route - jump all over it! Running on earth (dirt, grass, trails) is less stressful and jarring to your joints but it will make your muscles work harder because the surface is uneven. It will strengthen your ankes and give you that extra boost when you return to pavement or concrete. Treadmills are the best option when the weather is bad and you cannot run outside. The smooth surface is easy on the legs.

In conclusion, switching up your running routes, and surfaces, will make your runs easier because there's a different focus, give your legs a break and work your muscles differently. Try out a new surface or route this week!