Race Week Rituals

Guest Blogger Courtney Alev


What kind of rest you get all WEEK will affect how you feel on race morning. Ambassador Mark makes it a goal to “sleep as much as possible.” I’ve had the same goal this week (the night I stayed up til 1AM catching up on episodes of a very embarrassing TV show notwithstanding).

For me personally, I focus on getting as much sleep as I can the night BEFORE the night before the race, e.g., Friday night for a Sunday race. Inevitably, race day morning comes with a wakeup call at ridiculous 3:30AM and I tend to 1) not be able to fall asleep because I’m so excited/anxious and 2) I wake up every 30 minutes anyway out of fear that I slept in. Friday night, the anxiety isn’t there yet, so I can get a good night’s sleep that will hopefully help me out come race day!


Dramatically cutting your miles the weeks before the race can lead to irritability, wacky appetite, anxiety that you’re not doing enough, and what SFM runner Renee refers to as a #TaperTantrum. Personally I love tapering, as it feels great to have fresh legs on race day! Everyone’s style is different and what you run during taper depends on your weekly mileage during training. Ambassador Nancy swears by the 50%-25% mileage restriction during taper—figure out what works for you!


While your relaxed training frees up time in your busy schedule, use that time to get ready for the race! This can include, but is not limited to:

-Making super awesome iPod playlists with lots of Glee songs and 90s hip hop you swear you’d never listen to except while you’re running

-Lay out everything you need the night before. Take a picture of it like Nancy for future reference : )

-Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate like Luis!

-Do yoga like Daniela to prepare both body and mind

-Visit the course if you can like Christina, or watch course preview videos online if available to familiarize yourself

-Convince everyone you know that they should come spectate!


It’s been said then when you get to the start line of a marathon, it’s your mind that gets you to the finish line, not your body. Obviously your legs have a LITTLE to do with it, but it’s true that going up against a challenge like a half or full marathon requires mental dedication and focus. Use this time to focus on what’s will keep you going when the going gets rough, whether it be at mile 5 or mile 25.

For the SF Marathon last year, I recorded some motivational quotes and put them onto my iPod shuffle. Cheesy, yes, but three hours in, a little audio encouragement was welcomed. My personal favorite mantra? “You are so much stronger than you think.”Courtney Blog


One of the best things about running is the community! If you’ve signed up for a race alone but don’t want to go it alone, you don’t have to! Social media has made it ten times easier to connect with other runners participating in the same race. Check out the race’s Facebook page and Twitter handle, and suggest organizing an Expo or pre-race meetup. Runners are amazing at encouraging and supporting one another. Ambassador  Charlie looks for nervous people at the start line to talk to them about the race and make a connection—an amazing way to support other runners and distract yourself from the race
ahead of you, as well. Enjoy the expo—take advantage of the opportunity to meet awesome runners, spend money on things you convince yourself you need, and most importantly, get swept up in the spirit of the race. What keeps us running isn’t the clock at the end or the delicious taste of chocolate GU—it’s the overwhelming feeling of being part of something special.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

What do you do the week before a race?

Courtney Alev is a local San Franciscan residing in the hills of Ashbury Heights. During the day, she can be found working at a tech startup by the ballpark. At other times, you’ll find her running in Golden Gate Park, working on her food and running blog, Pancakes and Postcards, or picking a new neighborhood to explore. She caught the running bug while living in a Mozambican beach village as a Peace Corps Volunteer and frankly didn’t have that much else to do. Her first marathon was in May 2011, which she declared to be a one-time bucket list accomplishment. Within a week after finishing, she signed up for two more. If you want a local running buddy, new friend, or just someone to talk about SF or pancakes with, find her on Facebook or Twitter.

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