5 Tips to Get You to the Finish Line!

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With only 23 days to go, we are nearing the end of our training for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, and by now, you and I have completed some major training hurdles. From a few shorter practice runs during the week, to cross-training programs and the long runs on the weekends, we’ve built up our stamina, endurance and positive energy to conquer race day.
But sometimes, hard realities set in after the initial high of the first few miles. So I talked to the running experts I spoke to for my previous blog post, and we put together some additional tips to help us overcome race-day struggles and get to the finish line.
Here are their top five tips:
1. Examine the route prior to race day
Proper preparation for race day includes knowing exactly what is at each stop and getting a lay of the land. Take into account which mile markers will have water, bathrooms and first aid stations so you can plan your use of each amenity.
And drink the water when they have it. Proper hydration is essential to running your best race. If you can, drive or bike the route before the big day so you get a general sense of the areas you are running through, the terrain and any inclines that may be challenging. In addition, plan where you are meeting people after the race so you don’t get lost in the crowd.
Pro tip: Think about where you might have the biggest struggle, and plant family/friends around that mile marker to boost your spirits and give you a second (or third, or fourth) wind.
2. Fuel properly
Try to stick to a similar food menu that you did throughout training. Don’t introduce new foods you didn’t eat through training or new energy gels because you don’t know how your body will react.
Pack gels or any other items you’ll need that will help you run your best race. Also, guarantee any devices you will use are fully charged, because if music is your jam, make sure you have a killer playlist that will keep you motivated throughout the entire race.
Pro tip: Visualize yourself reaching the finish line throughout the race – and drinking a beer (or two) with your friends after you finish! Remain positive and time will go faster than you think.
3. Listen to your body
Long-distance running is just as much, if not more, mental than it is physical. The way you think about a run can really affect your performance. Instead of focusing on the distance you have left, think of what you’ve accomplished so far. But you know your body best, so if something starts to hurt, don’t ignore it. It’s okay to walk when you need to or stop by a first aid station to get medical attention.
Pro tip: When you reach important milestones in the race, like 10 miles in the half marathon and 20 miles in the full marathon, celebrate and focus on giving those last few miles your best to get to the finish line.
4. Hit the ground jogging
Remember to start slow at the beginning of the race. The thousands of runners and fans, along with loud music and race-day atmosphere will all increase your adrenaline. Chances are, at the beginning of the race, the high energy of the starting line will get you running at a faster pace than you trained, and nearly impossible to keep throughout. As good as you feel at the start, you’ll regret that quicker pace later in the race.
Pro tip: Keep in mind this is your race – not everyone else’s race. Don’t compare yourself to others or anyone who is passing you – just focus on running the best race you can.
5. Enjoy the experience
Trust your training. You’ve put in a lot of time and effort to reach this point. Know you have what it takes to get to the finish line. Remember to look around the crowd – people are there to keep you motivated throughout the race. There is no greater feeling than seeing the fans on the home stretch and reaching the finish line. Make sure to soak it all in as you reach the end.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to smile! You never know when the cameras are rolling and you’ll want to look happy in those race day photos.
Good luck to everyone participating in the Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon! It’s a huge accomplishment and I’m looking forward to celebrating with you all after the race.
If you have any additional tips or feedback that helps you cross the finish line, feel free to comment below.
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