Event Day Logistics: Know the Territory Ahead and Train Accordingly
One step to designing your Event-Specific Running Training Plan is to gather information about your specific event in order to prepare for event-day logistics. As they say, “the devil is in the details.” But, when it comes to Event Day, your ability to think through all the details ahead of time – and plan accordingly – can make the difference between having a fabulous time running your event … and a DNF (Did Not Finish). No kidding. Event day is the grand finale of all the work you’ve been doing for months, so you don’t want to blow it here. It is not the day to have any unexpected negative surprises. So take some quiet time, sit down somewhere void of distractions, and do your best to visualize what you’ll be doing from the time you wake up until the time the starting gun fires and it’s time to get started running your event.
- Weather on event day – Look at annual weather patterns for this location and train by running in the appropriate conditions whenever possible.
- Wake-up time – If you’re in an unfamiliar city, give yourself a few extra minutes of travel time to get to the event.
- Pre-event diet (when, what, how much?) –If you eat any foods the morning of the event, they should be consumed 2-3 hours before you get started running (with the exception of bananas or other quickly absorbed foods).
- Running Shoes – Be sure to wear a pair that are sufficiently broken in. They may not look as snazzy as a brand new pair, but your blister-free feet will thank you.
- Water belt or fanny pack – I always run with a fanny pack that holds my water bottle and a gel flask full of honey/maple syrup mix.
- Anti-chaffing lotion – Use it if you need it.
- Hat – Running in sunny, hot events, I like to wear a hat. It keeps the sun off my face and head, acts as a sweatband and, (as happened in the 90º 2004 Boston Marathon), will hold ice cubes to keep my head cool.
- Final review of event running focuses and pain-free running technique – midfoot strike, engage your core, etc.
- Set repeat countdown on your watch for every 10 minutes (check-in with your running focuses, body scan, hydration, etc.)
- Be sure your timing chip is tied to your running shoes. (I blew this one at my last Marine Corps Marathon and couldn’t use the time as a Boston qualifier!)
- Start Area Logistics
- Locations of porta-johns at the start line
- Warm-up area – Is there a flat, open space to do a warm-up?
- Start time
- Wave start? (Which wave is yours? Where is it? What time do you need to be there?)
- Expected size of crowds
- Crowd conditions before the start and at the start. If it’s going to be crowded, plan your starting pace differently … especially if you’re shooting for a specific overall time. Most events start to thin out within the first 2 miles. But some, like Boston, Disney World, or NYC may take miles before you can run comfortably.
- Finish Area Logistics – The best thing for this is to get a map of the finish area from the event website so you can see a bird’s eye view of the scene at the finish. You’ll be glad you did.
- Area for meeting friends – arrange a meeting place well ahead of time and make a list of anything you’d like them to bring to the finish area (change of clothes, towel, sandals, beer…)
- Bag pick-up
- Medical tent
- Proximity to transportation
Finally, take time to relish in your accomplishment! Accept the congratulations and pats on the back from your family and friends graciously over a delicious post-event meal.
It’s important to feel prepared for the day of your event, but the planning should begin in your training. If you would like more tips on how to fully plan for your event, check out our pain-free running training programs. The Mastery Phase of our technique-based training programs offers event-specific advice for the week before, such as a pre-event week meal schedule and familiarizing yourself with the course terrain online or in person if possible. There’s much to plan for, and the more you’re prepared, the better chance you have to make great time and set a PR.