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10 Half Marathon Tips for Race Day + Common Mistakes to Avoid

Taking the time to read some half marathon tips for race day specifically can help ease your nerves before the start. Many runners put so much focus on preparing and training for the half marathon that the actual race day falls by the wayside.

Preparing for half marathon race day is just as important as the training itself. Successfully navigating race day involves planning proper fueling, carb loading, logistics, traveling and gear.

Oftentimes, race day logistics can feel overwhelming – especially if you are running a course in an unfamiliar area. However, these race day half marathon tips will set you up for success in any setting, whether it’s your first half or your fortieth.

What you should do the day of a half marathon?

The best tip for half marathon race day is to plan ahead. Read through all the course info and parking, plan your fueling, prepare your breakfast, pack all of your gear and create a mental strategy.

On race day, practice some positive affirmations and remind yourself that all of the training and work is behind you now. Make a point to be in the moment, soak in all the excitement, and create lasting memories – regardless of how the race goes.

10 Half Marathon Tips for Race Day

These tips for half marathon race day will help you feel prepared, and ease any unnecessary nerves before the start. The more you educate yourself and prepare for the specific course and race day environment, the more confident you’ll be on the run.

Stick to your usual meals

It can be tempting to change things up on race day in order to “prepare” more adequately, but that often leads to digestive distress on the course. Stick with your typical dinner and breakfast, as well as timing, on race morning.

If you typically eat breakfast about 2 hours before running, you’ll want to get up early enough to do so on race day. If toast or oatmeal is your go-to meal, keep it consistent on race morning – even if it means you have to make and pack it ahead.

Wake up early enough to eat

Similar to sticking to your usual foods, you’ll want to stick to the usual timing of your meals. The night before, aim to eat dinner at your typical time. Keep your post-dinner snacks or dessert minimal to allow your body enough time to digest and process if the race starts early.

In the morning, accept the fact that you will likely have to wake up considerably earlier than normal. Most races require a bit of travel to get to the start, which means you’ll have to plan ahead when it comes to when you’re going to eat.

Hydrate the night before

Half marathon hydration is so important on race day, and one of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to prioritize hydration the night before. Try to save any alcoholic or caffeinated beverages for the celebration after the finish, and swap them out for some water the day before.

Waking up on race day with your body already hydrated will help you feel your best and compensate for any dehydration you might experience while running.

Maintain your usual bathroom schedule

One of the biggest stressors on half marathon race day is whether or not you’ll be able to go to the bathroom before the start. There are often big, long lines for the bathrooms and many runners find that the nerves or change in schedule can cause them distress.

Rather than getting stressed or nervous if you can’t go super early in the morning, try your best to stick to your normal routine. If you typically start a run without making a stop, you can plan to do the same on race day.

Map out the start

Most runners find themselves traveling at least a little to get to their half marathon. Whether you’re visiting a new country, state, or simply driving to the city next door, you’ll want to check the maps ahead of time.

Knowing which streets will be closed can help avoid any unexpected delays, as well as pre-planning where you’ll park. Taking the time to check out the maps will reduce any unnecessary stress on race day.

Don’t obsess

It is tempting to think back through your training and wonder whether or not you did enough to hit your goals on race day. However, the best thing you can do at this point is to remind yourself that all of your training is behind you and there’s nothing else you can do.

Ease your mind and avoid obsessing or worrying. You have trained, prepared, and are ready to run.

Start in the correct corral

One of the most important things to do on half marathon race day is to start in the correct corral. It’s tempting to try and bump yourself up a bit to start with faster runners, but this often sets slower runners up for failure.

In addition, even if you walk into the correct corral at the start, you’ll need to pay attention when things start to move. Sometimes the corrals can shift around as runners cross the start, and you might find yourself accidentally in a group of runners planning a different speed.

Look for the cameras

Whether your race day is a raving success or a bit of a bummer, you’ll still creating some lasting memories. One of the best ways to do so is to try your best to get some memorable race pictures.

Looking out for cameras staged around the course will help ensure that you are at least looking up in your action shots. If you’re feeling up for it, smile, wave or strike a pose to ensure you have a picture you’ll want to hang.

Try out some mantras

Half marathon race day is the perfect time to put into practice some positive affirmations and mantras. If you’ve been practicing them on your training runs, you’ll be prepared to put them into play during the race.

If you haven’t tried out some mantras yet, it’s not too late! On race day, practice reciting a few positive reminders to yourself, such as “I am strong”, “I can do hard things”, or “pain is temporary”. Remember these phrases and focus on them when things start to get tough near the end.

Celebrate – regardless of the outcome

One of the best reasons to run a half marathon is simply to accomplish the goal of finishing 13.1 miles. Whether you hit a new PR or struggled continuously, finishing the training and race is certainly worth celebrating.

Reward yourself after the race – whether that means calling your friend, enjoying the post-run finisher bag, or heading out to enjoy your favorite meal.

These 10 half marathon tips for race day will ease your nerves and help you feel confident. Plus, the most common race day mistakes to avoid!

Half Marathon Race Day Mistakes to Avoid

Some of the best half marathon tips for race day actually come from learning things you’ll want to avoid. Preparing yourself with tons of advice can be incredibly helpful, but nothing makes a bigger impact than learning from others and avoiding common downfalls.

Here are some common half marathon mistakes that you’ll want to avoid making on race day to set yourself up for success!

10 common half marathon race day mistakes:

  • Not trying clothes/gear ahead of time
  • Starting out too fast
  • Consuming caffeinated beverages
  • Failing to mentally prepare
  • Over-doing the carb-loading
  • Dressing for the temperature, not the conditions
  • Waiting too long to fuel during the race
  • Changing your pre-race routine
  • Dressing in complicated layers
  • Ignoring post-race recovery and fueling

Successfully training for a half marathon requires dedication, commitment and preparation. However, it’s important not to overlook the most important part of training: race day. Forgetting to prepare for the actual race itself will set yourself up for stress on the most important day of the training cycle.

These half marathon tips will all help you conquer race day with minimal stress, so you can focus on controlling your nerves, giving it your all, and really soaking in the entire experience.

More tips for half marathon race day and beyond: