A few weeks ago, I attended the fourth and final St. Jude Marathon training clinic. Coach Kevin Leathers hosted the program and discussed pre-race logistics as well as provided a sneak course preview. As I was listening to Coach Leathers, my nerves began to feel that rush of adrenaline only caused by race day.
The biggest takeaway from this session was to reduce your stress. Coach Leathers recommends a plan should be put in place beginning Friday night and all running gear should be double-checked. On race day, it is important to arrive early – at least 1.5 hours before the race. This will allow you enough time to get yourself situated, get your bag checked, and stretch with plenty of time to relax. You’ll also beat the crowds and avoid any additional stress.
When lining up in the coral before the race begins, make sure you seed yourself correctly. This will help avoid having a slow runner in a fast pace group or a fast runner in a slow pace group. The St. Jude Memphis Marathon also provides race pacers to keep you on pace. At the start of the race, line up near with the pace leader and remember to keep them in sight throughout the race.
As with any marathon, it is also important to stay close to the turns. Marathons are measured near the turn, so if you are running far from each turn, you’ll end up running more mileage. A few tenths of a mile add up with you are running 26.2 miles! Coach Leathers suggests when you see a turn approaching, start making your way toward the edge of the road early.
Overall, the most important aspects of every race are to relax, focus, and enjoy!