Hi, everyone! How was your weekend?
Yesterday, as I’ve been talking about ad nauseam for months, I ran my first marathon at the Portland Marathon in Oregon. (Funny enough, there was also a marathon in Portland, Maine, this weekend.) What a beautiful city!
How did I do in the race? If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know. If not, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s recap!
The final week of training went well. Honestly, the taper felt good, but I did experience some pre-race nerves! I have a sensitive stomach (nothing diagnosed and by no means severe compared to what many people suffer) and tend to feel any stress, both good and bad, in my stomach. It was nothing that bad and I was still able to run, but I made sure to be proactive in managing race day nerves and watching what I ate so that stress and my stomach would not get the best of me. Ultimately, my stomach did get the better of me during the race, but overall I managed race day nerves well in the time before the race.
I know I’m not the only one who suffers from race day nerves, so I want to share some tips on what personally helps me in managing race day nerves, whether I’m preparing for a half or full marathon.
Tips for Managing Race Day Nerves
Ginger chews or supplements
Ginger works wonders for an upset stomach, as it is soothing, anti-nausea, and anti-inflammatory. I try to eat some ginger daily, usually by including ginger powder in my morning oatmeal. When race day or another big event approaches, I purchase or make crystallized ginger to help soothe my stomach. Yes, it does have some sugar, so I count it as part of my carb-loading and only eat a few pieces a day so that the sugar doesn’t upset my stomach or make me feel lethargic.
Learn more about how ginger and other spices supplement your sports nutrition.
Eat bland and familiar foods
The “nothing new on race day” maxim can also apply to race week. Now is not the time to try new foods! I like to eat bland, familiar foods in the days leading up to the race: oatmeal, apples, bananas, skinless chicken breast, any kind of potato or sweet potato, rice, plain cereal, and so on. I deliberately avoid things that I know can upset my stomach, such as beans, tomatoes, milk, and cheese. As I learned this week, oranges also upset my stomach when I’m stressed (they’re so acidic) so I also pay close attention to what I eat and how each meal affects me and eliminate anything as soon as I notice a pattern.
Looking for a nourishing pre-race meal? Try this vegetarian and gluten free sweet potato and rice bowl!
Do gentle yoga
All yoga is relaxing, but you don’t want to risk fatiguing your muscles with a vigorous vinyasa session or dehydrating yourself at hot yoga. Stick to yin yoga and hatha yoga. The steady breathing of yoga will help you release stress. Meanwhile, the poses will release muscle tension and “pop” tight joints; your muscles feeling relaxed will help you mentally relax. Yin yoga is really beneficial for managing stress since you hold the poses and focus on your breath for longer, plus it slowly releases adhesions in your muscle fascia, like a gentler version of foam rolling. (But beware if you have a super needy awkward dog like Charlie, who thought that my yin yoga practice meant that I wanted him to climb all over me like a mountain goat.)
I love Beth at Sublimely Fit’s yoga routines! Try this Recovery for Runners yoga routine after a long run or race.
Take an epsom salt bath
Like yoga, an epsom salt bath will relax you mentally while reducing physical tension. The magnesium in epsom salts relaxes tired muscles and soothes upset stomaches, thus alleviating any real or imagined taper side effects. If you can, purchase scented epsom salts or add essential oils such as lavender, which will increase your relaxation.
Do epsom salts boost recovery? Find out in this article from Runner’s Connect!
Don’t obsess over the race
This time, I didn’t calculate detailed splits or over analyze the course map. Yes, I know what to expect and I did develop a race strategy, but I was already nervous enough about my first 26.2. Whether you’re running your first marathon or your tenth, you don’t need add additional stress by creating a rigorous race plan with highly specific paces for each mile. I’ve read over and over again Instead, read a non-running-related book, watch a movie, go for a walk, or have a drink (or all of the above!)—anything that will ease anxiety about the race. I read my Lord of the Rings each night before bed and the night before we left for Portland, we went to see The Martian (which you should go see right now, right away), both of which relaxed me and got my mind off the race.
Letting go of perfectionism can benefit your racing and goal-setting, according to this worthwhile read from Running Times.
Portland Marathon Training Week 18 (Race Week)
Monday: 6 miles easy, 9:09/mile average pace.
Tuesday: 5 miles easy on the treadmill, 9:20/mile average pace, followed by 15 minutes of yin yoga.
Wednesday: AM: 6 miles easy, 8:41/mile, with 5 x 100 meter strides over the last 10 minutes. PM: 35 minutes foam roller yoga.
Thursday: 4 miles with Charlie, 9:30/mile average pace.
Friday: No running; 20 minutes recovery yoga.
Saturday: 2 mile shake-out run.
Sunday: Portland Marathon, 3:49:32 official chip time.
50.2 miles of running.
Questions of the Day:
Who else raced this weekend? How did it go?
How do you manage nerves before a big race, presentation, interview, or other event?
Did you see any good movies this weekend?