Must Have Running Tips for Half Marathon and 5K Runners

Must Have Running Tips for Half Marathon and 5K Runners

Aug 27 2021

No matter the distance, proper preparation can help you run your best race.

By: Tom Spring

The Detroit Free Press Marathon is just a few months away, and we are thrilled to welcome runners back to downtown Detroit for the races as the Official Health Plan Sponsor.

Along with the full marathon, the two-day event offers races of all distances, including a half-marathon and 5K. This event strives to encompass people from all walks of life, not just elite runners. That being said, there are things that every runner – new or experienced – should keep in mind when preparing for an upcoming race.

Below are tips to ensure a successful race day.

The week before

  • Make sure to pay close attention to your hydration the entire week leading to up the event, not just the night before.
  • Decide on your outfit and make sure that you have ran in it at least once. You want to know where potential hot spots or chaffing may occur.
  • Keep an eye on the weather – if it looks like it might rain, adjust accordingly and set aside accessories to help keep you comfortable (e.g. a hat, body glide, lightweight jacket, etc.).
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, especially the 48-72 hours before race day.

The day before

Balanced meal

  • Make every effort to pick up your number bib and information at the expo or packet pick up. It will help keep the nerves to a minimum by eliminating one more thing to
    worry about the morning of. More information on this process will be available for registrants.
  • Do a short run, no more than 2-3 miles for a half or full marathon, and 10-15 minutes for 5K-10K. It’s fine to be out and about the day prior, but don’t overdo it with an all-day shopping trip or an afternoon of hiking.
  • Eat a well-balanced meal early in the evening. Don’t eat too much fiber the day before as it may result in digestive issues the following day.
  • Set out your planned outfit and pin your bib to your shirt. That way, you are less likely to forget it the next day.
  • Plan out where you will park and where you will meet up with your friends and family. It helps to have the logistics out of the way.

Event Day

  • Wake up early enough to eat breakfast 1.5 – 2 hours before your start time.

    Water station

  • Arrive at the event at least 30 to 60 minutes prior to the event. This will allow for any hiccups with traffic, road closures and parking that may arise.
  • Wear a throw-away top before the event to keep warm. Most events have a charity to donate tossed clothing items to.
  • As soon as you arrive at the event, go to the restroom. Your nerves and excitement will likely make you need to go.
  • Line up with a slower pace than what you anticipate running. Everyone will start out faster than their preferred pace – try not to get caught up in the excitement.
  • Get water at every aid station and, if it’s warm out, take an electrolyte drink as well.
  • Be sure to high five kids along the course and thank volunteers. It will give you a boost of energy and brighten their day too.

After the event

  • Wear your charm or medal with pride! You just completed something that many others are not able to. Celebrate your accomplishments – you’ve earned it!
  • When the hard work is over, there is still one important step left: recovery. Eat a small snack within the first 30-60 minutes after the race, keep walking to slow your heart rate and take a cold or ice bath for a few minutes to aid in reducing inflammation in your legs.

No matter the distance, participating in any race is certainly an achievement to be proud of. We look forward to seeing you at the Detroit Free Press Marathon this October!

About the author: Tom Spring is the wellness director at Priority Health.