5 Things You Need to Know Before Running Your First Race
What's the secret to running like a champion (or in more relatable terms, to simply just making it to the finish line in the first place?). There are a few easy ways to master a run, and who better to share their secrets than former professional runner Ryan Hall, who holds the U.S. record in the half marathon. In honor of the upcoming New York City Marathon on November 5, the current athletics coach and Fitbit ambassador shares his tips below:
1. Set multiple alarms.
I can't tell you how many times I've scheduled a wake-up call while staying in a hotel only to have it never come. Also, I've slept through my phone alarm at times as well so set multiple alarms the night before the race. My favorite alarm is on my Fitbit Ionic because it vibrates to wake me which is a lot gentler than noisy alarms, plus it always wakes me up.
2. Have coffee or caffeine, but not too far in advance of your race.
Without a doubt, caffeine is a performance enhancing stimulant but you want to be careful how you use it. If you have your caffeine too far in advance of your race you will be at your best energy when you are sitting in the car driving to the race. We want to time when the caffeine is at the height of its energy boosting effect and also time the diuretic nature of caffeine to make sure we get out excess water and food waste from your system. So aim to drink your coffee or take your caffeine 75 minutes prior to the race start.
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3. Don't eat high fiber foods the day prior and the day of your race.
I know this is the opposite of what a nutritionist will tell you for your day to day nutrition but for the day before the race and day of that you avoid high fiber foods such as salads, veggies, bran cereals, and high fiber breads, and pastas. Also avoid beans and red meat as these sit in your digestive track longer. We want simple, bland, boring food the day before and the day of a race so we don't have any stomach issues or stopping to hit the porter johns every mile.
4. Let your heart be your guide.
I would say it's a conservative estimate that 95% of first-time racers start too fast but in today's techy day this should never be the case. Use your smartwatch like a variety of Fitbit models that report back to you your moment by moment heart rate fluctuations without having to wear an annoying strap around your chest. If you have been paying attention to your heart rate in training (which you should) then you simply run at the heart rate that you know you can maintain for the duration of the race. No guessing involved.
5. Don't think too much.
I think a lot of runners simply way over think things. I'm a big fan of going out there and keeping it simple. I remind myself to "have fun and run hard." If I do these two things then I know I will have a successful race.