Several of my yoga students and friends have been training hard for the Merge 25K, to be run from Chapel Hill to Durham this weekend—and several are running the race after a half marathon last weekend. Whether you want to run hard or just have fun, spending time to think through every decision related to the race, from your overarching reason for running the race to your equipment, nutrition, and pacing choices, will ensure you have a great experience on Saturday. I hope to see you there; right after the race, I head to New Jersey for the Women’s Running Summit.
Why did you sign up for the race? What motivates you to run in general, and why this race in particular? Being clear on your reasons for racing, whether they are to hit a certain time goal or to enjoy the celebration of 25 years of Merge Records, will help you get to the finish line feeling successful.
Given your reasons for running, think through a pace that will make sense over the entire length of the course. When you are trained, rested, and ready, it can be tempting to start far too fast, setting yourself up for a painful second half of the run. Determine a sustainable pace, and find a way to keep yourself on track, either by using a GPS device or app, a stopwatch, or your perceived effort. Practice this pace in your final training runs so it’s second nature.
Use your last few runs as dress rehearsals to nail down the shoes, socks, and clothes you’ll wear on race day. Plan for layers, as March in North Carolina could be balmy or brisk. If you can’t remember the last time you bought new shoes, pay a visit to Bull City Running—but don’t change your footwear drastically in the last two weeks before the race.
Nutrition and Hydration
Covering 15.5 miles on foot is no joke. For most of us, the amount of time it will take to run the race exceeds our glycogen supply, and taking in a few calories can mean the difference between moving like a zombie in the last few miles or feeling strong and ready to celebrate at the postrace party. Experiment with taking a gel with plain water every 45 to 60 minutes on your long runs—and try different brands and flavors. Not every stomach does well with every food, and it’s best to experiment in training, not in the race.
For a full customizable race-plan template, download the files posted at racingwisely.com, and for a complete guide to performing at your personal best, please read my latest book, Racing Wisely.