Preparing for an Out-Of-Town Race
Many runners get so carried away when planning a trip to a race that they forget something. I know because I forgot my shoes once.
Posted Friday, 23 December, 2005
This experience taught me the benefits of a check list, which you can find with other pre-race details in GALLOWAY’S BOOK ON RUNNING 2ND EDITION. But there are many other reasons for preparing in advance for your running trip—especially if the race is a marathon or other event that is challenging for you.
Concept: Gaining Control Over Your Running Experience
By planning ahead, and by organizing your training based upon the race day situation, you will gain a great deal of mental confidence that the experience will be a good one. Here is a plan that will help you organize your trip in advance as you prepare the body and mind to “go the distance”.
Time Zone Issues
I organize a number of running retreats and run schools, including a trip to the original marathon in Greece. Most of those who attend these sessions live several time zones away from where they will be running. The best plan for adjusting to this is to start one run a week, at the actual (real) time of the day when the run would start. Those who are travelling more than 2 time zones east have had great results with this plan:
If the event starts at 7am Eastern time and you live in the Pacific zone, run one of your runs each week starting at 4 am. Most runners who’ve tried this have found that it works very well. At the very least, it will get you desensitized to getting up early. Go through the same ritual you’ll be using on race day: alarm clock, coffee, everything laid out, etc. Be sure to take care of the safety issues involved in running in the dark. There’s another advantage to this practice in the summer: the coolest time of the day is before the sun comes up.
Pack a bag a month in advance
Whether you use my check list or not, write down your own packing list and put it in the bag. Gradually fill up the bag with items. Each week, go over it and pack more items so that one week before you have everything. If there are some items that you will be using until the morning of your trip (shoes, toilet kit, etc), circle them on your list. I don’t leave my shoes behind any more because I wear them on the trip.
Put the travel documents into a pouch on your bag—a week in advance or more
You’ll reduce the stress on your race week, if you have the travel details planned and written down. As you put together all of the elements of your journey, write the reservation numbers, phone numbers of your hotel, race expo information, etc., on one piece of paper. Go over this several times during the last week so that you have everything at that one place.
Look at the weather channel starting 7 days ahead
Each day, see what is predicted, leading up to race day and on the big day. There’s a “clothing thermometer” in my book which can help you pack for temperatures you may not have run in before. Each day, for the next 7 days, check again and again—adjusting your bag contents accordingly. Remember that you need clothes for the travel to and from—and for race day itself. It is always better to have a few items too many—but try to pack everything into a bag you can carry—or roll. I see runners at every big out-of-town marathon with 2 or 3 big bags. This adds stress to the trip—and stress to the shoulders and back!
Try to get a preview of the course
If you are lucky enough to be travelling to the race city in the months before the race, drive or run parts of the course. The last third of the race is the most important section to see. Some races have video previews of the course. You can often get good information from runners who’ve run the course before. It helps to have 3 or 4 viewpoints, but a really experienced runner can often help you understand the challenges of the course. Some runners like to be surprised by the course, and this is fine. But if you have anxiety about potential course challenges, especially when you’re tired, try to use one of these methods to preview.
You can gain control over your trip
Those who prepare, mentally and physically for the big day, have a chance to enjoy the trip and the race itself. By spending a little time each week, focusing on your trip and doing the race day rehearsal, you will be ready. And you won’t leave your shoes behind.
Note: Olympian Jeff Galloway has helped over 150,000 runners to their running goals. He does e-coaching, conducts running schools and retreats (including Tahoe area), answers questions free at RunInjuryFree.com and has a monthly page in RUNNER’S WORLD Magazine.