Sergeant Tony’s Tips and Strategies for Running the St. Jude Half Marathon
Race Day Tips
• Don’t do, eat, drink, or wear anything on race day that you haven’t done in training. You don’t want any surprises on race day.
• Don’t eat or drink anything during the race that you haven’t tried out in training.
• I park at the Peabody Place parking garage. It’s convenient to both the start and the finish lines. Plan to arrive an hour before race time.
• I always arrive early and take a duffel bag with a change of clothes, toiletries, shower shoes, and towel to Auto Zone Park, where you can check it with volunteers. Since the race ends at Auto Zone Park you can use the player’s locker rooms and showers.
• Lay out all of your clothes and gear the night before.
• Put your electronic run toys “on charge” the night before. Make sure everything is charged up!
• Use “Body Glide” or some similar product to “lube” the parts of your body that might get chaffed or blistered: your feet, thighs, and underarms.
• It’s usually chilly while standing around waiting for the race to start, so wear some old or worn out warm-ups, sweats, shirts, or jackets for the race that you can take off and discard 5 minutes before the race begins or toss along the route as you start warming up. Bring a garbage bag to use if it looks like rain. Don’t forget some disposable gloves too.
• Your last “big meal” ought to be Thursday night for the Saturday morning half marathon. Some have had success with their last big meal being breakfast or possibly lunch on Friday. I have my last big meal on Thursday night.
• Thursday ought to be your hydration day. Drink 4 to 6 oz. of water every hour you’re awake. Cut back on caffeine, salt, and alcohol since they can contribute to dehydration.
Race Strategies For Everyone
• Visualize the race and your success. Take a look at the race map and know the course.
• Visualize yourself running into Auto Zone Park, energetic, fast, and proud as you cross the finish line!
• If you own a Garmin, wear it and pay attention to your pace.
• It’s a 13.1 mile event. The biggest mistake is to go out too fast. Don’t be intimidated by the “gazelles” or led by the misguided who start out like rabbits and who’ll probably finish like turtles. The biggest mistake is to go out too fast. Run your own race. If anything, start out a little slower than you intend to be running by the third mile. So fight the urge to blast off at the beginning.
• Don’t think about increasing your pace until after you’ve climbed the Beale Street hill between miles 2 and 3.
• Running etiquette says that you don’t stop in front of the tables at the water stations and drink. If you take some water, jog a little past the tables to walk and drink. Be aware that others aren’t going to stop to get anything to drink and you don’t want to get in someone else’s way.
• If you’re NOT going to take a cup of water or sports drink as you go through an aid station, then don’t run close to the water tables and volunteers. That way you won’t run into someone who doesn’t know the etiquette and suddenly stops to chug the water.
• Enjoy yourself! You already know that you can “go the distance!”
• Be sure to say “THANK YOU!” to the volunteers!
Race Strategies For New Half Marathoners
• If you’re a relatively new runner and/or this is your first half marathon, don’t worry too much about your finish time. Just enjoy the experience!
• Take a 30 to 60 second walk break at every water station or every mile, beginning with the FIRST mile!
• Add about 1min 30 seconds to 2 minutes per mile to your most recent 5K or 4 mile race pace to determine your target pace for the half marathon. (Use the March of Dimes Turkey Trot 4 Miler held on Thanksgiving morning at Shelby Farms to give you an idea of your pace per mile. Then add the extra time to predict your half marathon race pace.) For example, if you’ve run an 8 minute mile pace for a recent short distance race, then add 1.5 to 2 minutes, making it a 9’30” to 10’ pace per mile for the half marathon.
Race Strategies For Experienced Runners
• If you’re an experienced runner and/or you’ve run other half marathons AND you want to lower your half marathon time, you’ll need to pay close attention to your pace, especially in the beginning. You can determine your required race pace for your goal time by consulting any number of online pace calculators, such as http://www.marathonguide.com/fitnesscalcs/pacecalc.cfm
• Let’s say that your goal is to finish in under 2 hours. That would translate into a roughly 9 min per mile average pace. But going out at 9 min per mile pace at the beginning of the half marathon might be too fast. So, think of starting out at a 10 minute per mile pace or slower for the first mile or two. Starting out a little slower than your target average pace per mile for the first 7 miles will, all other things being equal, give you the energy and stamina that you’ll need to finish strong. For example, you could run at a 9’30” mile pace for the first 7 miles (1hr 6 min 30 sec) and then run the last 10K at an 8 min 30 second pace.
• Use the “average pace” function on your Garmin to keep your goal pace in reach.
TO EVERYONE … GOOD LUCK AND HAVE A GREAT RUN!!!