getting race ready

start your engines

If you're planning on running a marathon, you're busy focusing on training. We'd like to take something off your plate so you can keep up the good work. Don't worry about the details before the race - our panel of ambassadors and other seasoned runners have you covered. Here's the plan.     

two weeks out

Begin the hydrating marathon. Be very intentional. Nearly everyone we asked suggested drinking at least three litres of water a day from this point on.

Get what you need to pack. If you're travelling to a race, we've got your packing list waiting for you. Now is a good time to make sure you have everything you need - passport included.

Commit to your outfit. By now you should know exactly how you feel in what you're running in. (You've been training in it, right?) The sooner you choose your gear for the race, the better. This includes your shoes and socks.

Keep it consistent. Now is not the time to try new workouts, new diets, new sleeping patterns - whatever. Stick with what your body is used to.

Taper down your runs. According to our resident running expert Mike, there are really no benefits to be made within two weeks of the race and your body needs to heal after months of intense training. "I cut my running back at least two weeks before the race," he says. "I like a sharp drop about a week before, but I do enough to stay sharp with short speed and tempo drills." Everyone's different. Don't avoid running - just take it easy. Thirty to 45-minute runs are a good idea.

Keep doing yoga. Give your body and mind the love they deserve. You'll enhance your stride and your hips will thank you. (We'll help. We've got complimentary classes at your local store.)

Make your playlist. Your pace can ultimately be decided by your music. Alumni ambassador Rob recommends starting with mellow paced songs to calm your nerves and saving the intense up-tempo songs for the final stretch. We've got a few suggestions.

Learn the course. Know where the hills are so you can mentally prepare. The more familiar you are with the terrain, the better.

go time @ the NYC marathon

one week out

Spend time with Mr. Sandman. Rob recommends aiming for at least seven hours a night.

Think about adding salt. Everyone's diet is different but if you typically keep your sodium intake to a minimum, consider stepping it up a bit. You'll be sweating it all out soon and your body needs the electrolytes.

Set time goals. Jenn likes to break the race into 10K intervals. She sets different goals for each. "I know I'll need more time if there are large hills, so I set goals to make up the time in other parts of the race." She writes them on her arm on race day. Other people laminate cards or make wristbands.

Keep moving. Listen to your body and the keep up the light running and yoga.   

Picture your success. Rebecca is always visualizing her runs. "I can feel myself doing the race: the starting line, the gun - everything. I tell myself I'm strong and fast and I picture seeing my personal best on my watch."

Plan a celebration. You'll deserve something fabulous when the race is behind you. Call the people you love. Make reservations. Pick an outfit.

Keep drinking water. We can't say it enough.

Keep sleeping. It's especially important to get a good rest two nights before the race. Douse your pillow in lavender essential oils if that's what it takes.

Start packing your bags. It's really happening!

NYC marathon

the day before

Keep calm. It's all very exciting (almost nerve-racking, in fact) so do everything you can to stay collected. If you catch yourself losing it, just take a few deep breaths. You're almost there!

Stay hydrated. If you've been doing your job, your body has been perfectly hydrated for a weeks. Bravo. (Remember your electrolytes too. How you choose to get them is up to you.)

Do nothing. Today is the day to get your sloth on, according to our panel. Stay in your sweats and don't exert yourself. (If you have serious butterflies, Rob suggests doing a quick jog and a thorough stretch. Just take it easy.)  

Prep your outfit. Lay out your gear, pin your bib on your race belt and try it on to see how it feels.

Charge your batteries. You want your tunes and heart rate monitor to keep up with you for the whole race.

Connect with your cheering squad. You won't have your phone with you so make sure to decide on a meeting spot in advance. Carla suggests you find out where they're planning to cheer you on so you know when to wipe your brow and smile for the camera.

Get some sleep. OK, so most of the people we spoke with said it's nearly impossible to sleep well the night before. Do the best you can. Try not to think about the race too much. (You've been visualizing your amazing race. You'll do great. Just breathe.) 

Eat well. Our jury is out on the whole carb loading thing. Your body needs carbohydrates but not five servings of pasta. Don't do anything too out of the ordinary and don't eat anything too high in fibre. You've been warned.

race day

Give yourself time. Three hours should be plenty of time to fully wake up, get ready and mentally prepare.

Run a bath. Mike has a hot one as soon as he wakes up to warm up his muscles. (It's also a good anxiety reliever.)

Fuel thyself. Katie reminds everyone to eat a balanced meal of proteins, fats and carbs two hours before the race. Remember, eat things you're familiar with - nothing out of the ordinary. (Again, watch the fibre intake.)

Don't overdress. Disposable layers are great to keep warm before you hit the pavement but as for your race outfit, don't overdo it. You'll be warm within the first five minutes. Being too hot can have an adverse effect on your heart rate, fatigue, and ultimately, your results.

Get warm. Think of a car starting up in the cold. It doesn't happen. Please don't cut your warm-up short. The rule of thumb? The shorter the race, the longer the warm-up. Runner's World has a great article on the subject.

Avoid the starting line frenzy. Mike says save the hooting and hollering for the end - you need that energy. We agree.

the truth

Have fun! Your hard work is about to pay off. Remember to enjoy yourself in the midst of it all.

Celebrate your achievement. Aren't you glad you made those reservations? You're welcome.

want more?

There you have it. Do you have anything to add? Share your advice, bookmark this page and check back as your race approaches. We'll see you soon!

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I love this post! It makes me SO excited for the spring race season to start!

Comment by Siobhan @ sio 'n the run — March 3, 2011 @ 7:40 am

I love everything about this post, it sure does get me going for this years race season to start!! :)

Comment by Mandy Stoesz — March 3, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

Lots of great suggestions here. We would like to add three others.
1. Prepare a written race strategy
Consider the scenarios and decide in advance what you will do. Consider issues like heat, cold, illness, injury, slow start due to big crowds and walk breaks.

2. Consider Partnerunning
If you are running with a partner or group set groundrules and decide how you will deal with problems.

3. Reflect and learn
After the race consider what happened and compare it to your written race strategy. What did you learn and how can you improve.

A final comment – forget the ipod and enjoy the experience with your fellow runners.

Happy running
Sue and Andrew

Comment by Andrew and Sue O'Brien — March 3, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

This is an awesome post! Thanks so much as I prepare for my very 1st Bay Race! Im so nervous and will definately use all these tips.

Comment by Tracey Lavigne — March 3, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

Chuck Norris rocks. I can’t wait to run past that sign at my next race! It’ll inspire me to push just that little bit faster (and no doubt crack a smile across my face amid the huffing and puffing!)

Comment by Christi Kowalewski — March 3, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

All that water without electrolytes sounds like a surefire path to hyponatremia. DON’T overdrink in days leading up to a marathon unless you just want to deplete your body of key electrolytes. At the very least, use sports drink instead of water.

Comment by Molly — March 3, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

Love the list and the Chuck Norris sign (I saw another that said Chuck Norris doesn’t hit walls, he kicks them down). I have a list to get your fans ready to watch you race (i.e. how to be a good spectator):

Comment by Runshorts — March 3, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

I saw that sign at the Mardi Gras Marathon, New Orleans, February 13, 2011 and gave a shout out to the lululemon girls. Loved seeing you out there. I was running the marathon with a friend and we had our matching lululemon icat (sp?) tanks on. What a great marathon and a great weekend in New Orleans.

Run Ambassador
Derby St, Hingham, MA

Comment by Jennifer Casey — March 3, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

Oh I`m so glad I came to this page! I`m getting ready to run in my first Vancouver Sun Run. There are a lot of great tips here..Thank you….so pumped! :-)

Comment by Rachel Peppler — March 4, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

You guys didn’t include:

- Don’t forget to have a small bite to eat the morning of the race (e.g., banana — soommethhing)
- Don’t forget your chapstick, Napoleon – or you might have to borrow vasoline being passed out on popsicle sticks for other run remedy purposes!
- Don’t accidentally drop your ipod shuffle in the porta pottie when using the bathroom before the race!

Yes, these all happened to me. Live and learn I suppose!!

Comment by LuluSoccerMom — March 6, 2011 @ 1:32 am

good advice! the sports drinks leave such an aweful sweet taste in my mouth, so i drink coconut water after any exercise. it has an excellent source of potassium and ability to restore electrolytes without all the artificial colours and sugar in those sports drinks…it also has an added bonus of moisturizing your skin from the inside:)

will the lulu team be at the the montreal marathon this year? i just registered today…i’ve never ran a marathon before, so i’ll be needed all the cheering i can get! love those signs!

happy running!

Comment by Carolyn — March 7, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

Hey Carolyn,
You know we love a good cheer station! I’m sure we will have a team at the Montreal Marathon. Feel free to reach out to the stores to get more details. Sometimes they will also have post-race yoga classes as well.
GEC Online Community

Comment by lululemon athletica GEC — March 8, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

Over time you develop what works best for your prerace routines. My best advice is just to get experience. If you’re training for a big goal race, sign up for 2 or more smaller races leading up to it so that you are less stressed by the time you get to the big one. Happy Running.

PS-any race motivation referencing Chuck Norris is always good for a laugh. I saw a guy wearing a shirt in NYC that said “Run like you owe Chuck Norris money!”

Comment by Brian — March 10, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

thanks Jenna!

i’ll remember to ask them the next time i go in:)

haha Brian! i sooo want one of those shirts!!

Comment by Carolyn — March 10, 2011 @ 8:53 pm

This is awesome – lots of great information! It gets me pumped for my first half marathon! (: And I really like that sign – Chuck Norris never ran a marathon – hahaha (:

Comment by HarmomyLA — March 17, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

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