Christophe has submitted a few questions about how do get as ready has he could for the Townsville half marathon. The answers I will give are based on my experience, it works for me. It could be a good starting point for you, then adapt to what feels best.
What is the most effective nutrition plan on the morning of a half-marathon run?
This is a hard question as we all have different habits and some digest some food better than others. Aim at being loaded in carbs but not feel full and bloated. The most important pre-race meal is the last dinner, it needs to be rich in carbs and contain some fibers. It will fill you up, picture the last breakfast as a top up to make sure your sugar levels are good.
The way I do it:
-Last dinner: Rice with some veggies (I avoid onions and garlic), in a decent amount (2 cups of rice, I am 77kg), after dinner I will slowly drink some diluted maltodextrin (50gr) and a few lollies.
- The morning of the race, 2 options:
You are ok waking up 3hr before the race, then you can have 4 to 6 slices of bread with honey or jam (I drink a tea with milk + water)
You wake up 1hr30 before the race, then 1 banana and 2 slices of breads with jam (only water)
What is the most effective warming up plan before a half-marathon run?
Before a short race I start warming up about 20-30min before the start (according to the temperature). Your goal is to raise your body temperature and loosen up your muscles.
I start with 10min easy jog, until I start sweating lightly, then 4 or 5 50m accelerations in order to lift my heart rate. Then a few drills, bum kicks, knee raises and sidewalks. Once that is done I do some leg swings and deep lunges (to open the hips).
I spend the last 10-15min resting (standing), this last part is more or less long depending on the ambient temperature, if it is cold I will make it shorter.
Assuming I have a planned run pace. What is the running strategy for a half-marathon run? (for example: start slower than the planned pace for a few minutes or run at planned pace from the beginning throughout the entire race?)
Again a hard question, as we all race differently. There is a common agreement on the fact that finishing strong is the best way (negative split). In reality it is hard to accomplish, you want to perform at your best, the adrenaline is up. This leads most people into fast starts.
If your pace is 4:15 per km, I would recommend to start at that pace, if you have something left after 15km you can accelerate, maybe to 4:10.
What is a good nutrition strategy during a road running race?
What to take in the running short on the race –gels, salt tablets etc?
Frequency of nutrition intake?
A half marathon implies high heart rate, so getting nutrition in can be very difficult. As it is an aerobic effort under 2hr30, you should not need to get any nutrition or water in. It is very likely that most of your blood will be going to your legs, your stomach will be dehydrated and not functioning at a high rate (digestion will be slow). I usually do not eat or drink during a half marathon, I have a spare gel in case I feel the need for a boost. I will rinse my mouth at the 15km mark, but not drink.
If you need to eat, gels will be the best option as they won’t be heavy to absorb. Electrolytes are not necessary for this kind of distances, they can be for your recovery.
How to hydrate at a checkpoint without losing time? (Is it ok or inappropriate to throw the plastic cup out on the street?)
Obviously drinking from a cup while running is hard. Once more on a half marathon you do not “need” to hydrate, but if you need to rinse your mouth aid stations will be nice.
Most race offer paper cups, usually 1/3 full. You can fold the top of the cup to sip easier. If the cups are in plastic, two options, slow down to drink or open the mouth big and throw the water straight in your face J you should get a small mouth full!
A well-organized race will always have bins 30 to 100m after the aid station. Try to aim at them. If you miss your shot and the cup falls next to the bin do not stop to pick it up! A runner might be just behind you, just feel grateful for the work of the volunteers.