Vancouver Marathon Race Preparation Tips

Use my race preparation tips to start the Vancouver Marathon and Half-marathon in peak shape

Credit: Flickr/Duncan Rawlinson

The final couple of weeks of training can make or break your marathon race

The Vancouver Marathon is only 17 days away and I’ve got some proven race preparation tips to help you get ready for the big race

A good training program should have you reduce your training in the final two to three weeks before the marathon. This period is known as the taper during which you cap off your weeks and months of training.

The Race Day Taper

A well-done taper will get you to the start line in peak condition. A poorly executed taper can ruin your race experience by having you show up on race day over-trained and exhausted before you even begin the race.

During this time many runners get anxious about losing all the fitness they’ve worked so hard to achieve during training. But don’t worry. Backing off on the training only helps your body reach a higher level of fitness in response to all the training.

It helps to have something to focus on during this taper period. Use my marathon race prep tips to keep yourself on track and ease your anxiety about the big day. My advice also applies if you’re doing the half-marathon or even the Vancouver Sun Run.

Week-Before-the-Race Checklist 

  • Eat well and stay hydrated the entire week; 6 – 8 cups of water per day.
  • Don’t try any new cuisines; stick to foods you know.
  • Do two to three runs of 20 – 30 minutes (you can incorporate some speed bursts in these runs).
  • Look over all your equipment making sure it is race ready. Check shoelaces!
  • Review race goals and focus on what you want to accomplish.
  • Visualize the kind of race you’d like to run – picture it clearly in your head with as much detail as you can (sights, smells, sounds) and rehearse it in your mind from start to finish daily; spend 15 minutes in a quiet room doing this.
  • Stay relaxed and do gentle dynamic stretches daily to help ease tension.
  • Get adequate sleep each night (8 hours); go to sleep 5-10 minutes earlier each night so the night before race day you are in bed at a reasonable hour.
  • Two days before the race get a good night’s rest; the night before you may be nervous and not sleep as well.
  • Fine-tune your pre-race routine (i.e. warm-up, leg swings, short jog).
  • Review the course map if available.
  • Finalize your nutrition and hydration strategy (how much to drink, what to eat and drink, where you will refill, how you will carry your gear).
  • Plan your pacing; for road races your minutes per mile or kilometre.
  • If you’ve trained with a heart rate monitor, also use your heart rate in your pacing.
  • Write out your paces/heart rates and memorize them. Stick to your race plan; don’t go out too fast!
  • Plan your post race package – change of clothes, shoes (sandals are comfy after long races!), any special dietary needs.

Final Night Checklist

  • Prepare your gear the night before (race number pinned to clothes, lay out clothes, shoes, water bottle(s), post race package).
  • Check weather forecast and prepare adequately for the conditions.
  • Rehearse your race in your mind, again!
  • Make sure to drink 6 – 8 cups of water.
  • Go over your pacing/heart rates again.
  • Don’t eat anything you haven’t tried before – eat a meal you really enjoy and that makes you feel physically strong.
  • Get to bed at a reasonable hour but don’t stress if you don’t sleep well as long as you’ve gotten good sleep in the days prior.

Race Day Checklist

  • Breakfast – don’t eat anything you haven’t already tried in training and that you know how your body responds to.
  • Eat at least an hour before the race.
  • Drink 500 ml of water in the last hour before the race. Leave enough time to go to the washroom before the starting line.
  • Run through the race in your head one more time then let it go.
  • Go through your pre-race warm-up routine as planned.
  • Don’t try anything today that you haven’t tried in training. No new clothes, shoes, water bottles, etc.
  • Smile! It will ease the tension.