I did this for my marathon and my ultramarathon and it worked out really well. Granted there isn't a lot of elevation in the LA marathon to worry about, but I still took the time to know ahead of time when I would be running uphill. Whatever I can do to have a better race, I will do.
So I created a race week plan, a race day plan, and a race plan for the Griffith Park Half Marathon I am running in 6 days.
- Breakfast: avocado on toast with salt, coffee
- Snack #1: banana or apple, water
- Lunch: potato lentil stew with kale, water
- Snack #2: nuts, coffee (no second coffee thurs/fri!)
- Dinner: salad + something healthy (taco salad, pasta, potatoes, etc. ), water
- Snack #3: chocolate brownie kids clif bar, water
- Monday: 5 miles with fast finish in Montrails (to decide if I should race in these)
- Tuesday: walk 30 minutes
- Wednesday: walk 30 minutes
- Thursday: easy run 30 minutes in Montrails or Hokas
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: Race!
Typically I might not take it so easy before a half marathon, though I wouldn't know since I've never done one before, but I haven't ran 13 miles since February, and I want my ankle to be as rested as possible without getting stiff.
Day Before (Friday):
- Chug water, but no water after 7pm
- No coffee/caffeine after breakfast.
- Check weather and lay out clothes including a hat and gaiters
- Set out gear: flipbelt, gels, handheld, breakfast, phone, headphones and set playlist. (Don't carry too much in belt. Just phone and nutrition.)
- Get Garmin set up and charged. Make sure car has gas.
- Don't take a bag with you except maybe a baggie with keys and eyedrops.
- Set 3 alarms so you can sleep.
- Put velcro on Hokas if wearing them (for my gaiters)
Day of (Saturday):
- 4:30AM Alarm
- 4:40 Coffee, cereal very light dynamic stretching and maybe foam roll calves
- 5:00 Shower, hair, get everything together, and apply some sunscreen
- 5:50 Leave house
- 6:20 Park
- 6:30 Check in
- 6:40 Eat a clif bar
- 7AM RACE START
- 9:30 AM Bask in finish line glory
- Hydration: Hand-held, little more than half full, or full if it's going to be hot before 8AM
- Nutrition: Three gels incase I drop one but should only take two- one at mile 5 (1 hr) and one at mile 9.5 (1:45); I get really hungry after 2 hours so take a handful of almonds/cashews as well
- Consider taking Advil
- Set Garmin screen to elevation on one screen, time on one, and then total time, current pace, lap time.. Or lap pace? Hmm.. Turn off the lap beep.
- Flipbelt: not too many things to carry so should be fine
- KT tape: to tape or not to tape? Will probably tape. Can't hurt.
- Pay close attention to course markings and which direction you are going. Can make a big difference. Don't get lost!
- The race is one big out and back. If you average 12:00 hiking up and 8:30 running down that's a 10:15 pace. Total time about 2:15:00.
- The first 2.5 miles are a climb, so don't sweat walking. In fact, don't bother running the first .38 miles. Get in the front of the middle of the pack and everyone will be bottlenecking anyway. It's a good warmup. Then jog the rest of the first mile before the first climb. At the end of 2.5 miles you have already completed almost half of the climbing for the course. You have a long descent to mile 5.0. Run any small uphills between then to keep momentum because you may slow down if you walk.
- Consider taking Advil at mile 5 if your foot hurts. Will kick in by the time the climb is over.
- The biggest climb is from mile 5.15 to 7.82. This works in your favor because you will want to take a gel at mile 5 anyway. Take the gel at mile 5.25 while you're climbing and drink water.
- Gel/caffeine will kick in before you reach the downhill.
- Side note: Switching from running to walking is hard but you have to stick with running all the downhills in order to make your goal.
- Try to only stop at one aid station for water and have the lid off your handheld and ready to go.
- The last climb starts at mile 9.5. Again this is perfect bc thats when you wanna take that gel anyway. Take it and climb hard because its the last hard work. At mile 10.38 its all downhill, EXCEPT there is a tiny climb at 11.67. Run up it if you can because thats it!
- Gel/caffeine will kick in on the downhill.
- Get to the bottom without falling and don't miss the last turn.
Is this too detailed? Too specific? I don't think it is. I think it's just knowing the course and thinking about what I want to do. I've ran a lot of trails just like this one (though never this course) and I can pretty much envision it. I haven't taken a gel since February, but I had some good notes from the last 20-mile training run I did, so I borrowed on that experience. I also know that I like taking gels while I'm hiking up to give it time to settle in my stomach before running down. As you read, I literally thought to take gels at miles 5 and 9.5 before I even looked at the course profile, and that happens to be precisely the mileages for starting climbs.
I'll be interested in how I execute this plan. The hardest thing I think to stick to will be race week meals, drinking enough water all week, and not getting lost on the course ;)
Will definitely update afterwards!