*Contributed by Jeff Henderson - MIT Head Coach
First time and veteran half and full marathoners alike should make efforts to prepare for and simulate their race before heading to the starting line. There are several things you can do between now and race day the will greatly reduce race morning anxiety.
By now you've gotten yourself into a good long run morning routine. If you haven't settled on a routine, now is the time. This routine will come in extremely handy for your race day morning. Think about the amount time you need from the time when you wake up until you head out for your run. Chances are your race start time will be different than your typical morning run start time. Keep that in mind when planning your race weekend.
You should also have a pre-workout meal that is working out well. I'f you're not eating before hand, you MUST do so. Bagels and oatmeal are two of my favorite pre-workout meals. Whatever you are eating prior to your long workouts you should try to replicate on race day. Changing something as simple as a race day meal can really throw your body off.
Planning your hydration and nutrition for the race is also important. What miles are you going to take water? Gatorade? What about GU, Honey Stinger and Clif Shots. Come up with a game plan for when and where you'll refuel.
What about what you plan to wear on race day? This is another huge aspect that some forget about. If you look good you run/walk fast! So pick out a sweet looking outfit for race day. Once you've picked out your outfit you may feel compelled to hold off on wearing it until the big reveal on race day. DO NOT do this. You will want to take the apparel out for a test ride before race day. Doing this can help you determine that you have the proper fit. Sometime certain shoes and pieces of apparel just won’t work for an individual. Finding out on race day that your new race shirt is going to chafe is no bueno!
Now that you have your routine, hydration & nutrition and race apparel lined up, you should consider picking a 5K, 10k or half marathon and use it as a race simulation. Treat this race simulation just as you will your goal race. Try to pick a race with the same start time as your goal race and wake up in the proper amount of time. Eat and hydrate as you would for your goal race. Wear your new, fancy outfit w\to make sure its fits well.
Remember, at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun. Help reduce the race day jitters by getting out there a couple times before the BIG day. Stepping to the line a few times ahead of the big day will make race day seem like just another long workout, but with a lot more friends and a big shiny medal!