42.125 is a magic number for a lot of us. It feels like the ultimate race that all runners should eventually conquer and your finisher tee is going to be worn for all occasions in the next year. But it feels like a lot of mileage to cover at one go and it can be so nerve-racking. Especially since months and months of training have culminated to this 42k.
If you feel so nervous you might just ditch the whole race, it’s okay. If you feel like everything is going to go wrong from your stomach to your brain, it’s perfectly normal. We’re going to walk through how to conquer your big day as a runner.
This race is definitely long enough to necessitate mid-race refuel. You could opt for sports gels, sports drinks or an energy bar. There’s a whole assortment of them. Sports gels are essentially a concentrated source of carbohydrate (65–75 g/100 ml) that can be easily consumed and quickly digested. Its has a two-fold benefit. First, it gives you a more substantial source of carbs once those sugars have been digested (more so than sports drinks!). Second, it sends a message to your brain that more energy is being provided so you can now push harder!
If it’s your first time using a sports gel during a race and you’re unsure how your stomach might react, it’s okay to go for sports drinks and energy bars too. Choose one that contains both carbs and electrolytes. That would help with hydration as well! If possible, try out different types of sports fuel during your training runs. See what fits you best. Regardless, remember to have a full meal the night before and be well-rested for the next day!
Most training programs would gradually step up the distance you’ve to cover over the course of 4-6 months. Some would even manage to squeeze in 1-2 “trial” 42k runs. It’s about getting used to being on your feet for extended periods of time. However, remember to add in cross-training days as well. You can go for martial arts or swimming to train your aerobic capacity. Or hit the gym for some strength training.
On the last week leading up to race day, remember to rest and recover, rest and recover. You want to walk up to the starting line slightly nervous but extremely pumped to get started. Your legs should feel fresh and your heart strong and steady. Keep following your training schedule but step back on the intensity for the last week. Do either half the distance or reduce the pace. If you’ve slipped up on your training somehow, which is also common, here’s how you can safely get back on track!
You’re your longest commitment, so take the best care of yourself.
Lay out your running outfit the night before and pin on your race bib. Use your favorite socks too. Wake up early and have a proper breakfast of overnight oats or peanut butter sandwich 1-2 hours before the race. (You probably can’t sleep much the night before either!)
I usually like to arrange for someone to fetch me to the starting point so I won’t have to worry about not finding a carpark, missing my stop and such. You can also register for shuttle services or book a cab! Pamper yourself a little and make yourself as comfortable as possible.
Still, Murphy’s Law and things can still go wrong. Here are some troubleshooting for race day hiccups. Take things slow in the first km and remind yourself that you’re going to be doing this for 42 more times. And since you’re going to be at it for a while, might as well enjoy the road! Take in the scenery, your fellow racers and completely bask in this unique runner’s experience. A 42k is pretty special and your first is going to be most memorable of them all. Have fun with it!
The journey of a thousand steps begins with the first. You’ve already signed up for your 42k (or thinking about it) and that’s pretty brave in itself. Take pride in that and savour every step in your road to 42k.