‘Rest Before Race Day. Be a Tourist After the Race!’ Top Tips for International Runners
Thousands of international runners will travel to New York the week of Oct. 29, just days before the TCS New York City Marathon.
With the Big Apple having so much to offer, it is easy for excited runners to tire themselves out before race day. We asked two of our expert bloggers from the U.K., Charlie Watson (@therunnerbeans) and Marcus Brown (@themarathonmarcus), for their top tips on what to do—and what not to do—when you fly into New York a few days before tackling the iconic course.
Adjust to the Time
When traveling abroad for international races, I find its important to respect the impact that jet lag may have on your race. For me, it’s worse when traveling east, as it requires you to fall asleep hours earlier than your body wants to. Whereas traveling west is easier to adapt to, as you’d be going to sleep later than normal.
In the days before your departure, be mindful to try this tip. When traveling east, go to bed and get up gradually earlier several days before your travel. When traveling west, do the opposite, go to bed and get up later.
Rest Before Race Day
Saturday is sacred for taking it easy. I’d recommend doing a shakeout run in the morning, then if you have any errands that you need to do for the race, keep it local. Additionally, have a cutoff time in the early afternoon so you can stay off your feet and rest before Sunday’s early commute to the start village.
Finally, if traveling with your with family, be clear in your communication about pre-race activities. It’s best for all parties that you wait until the race is over for a lot of sightseeing—as some of these trips may clash with your pre-race relaxation plans. In an effort to keep everyone happy, I’d recommend limiting your sightseeing activities until after the race—even if you’re traveling solo.
Embrace the Jet Lag
Being tired and out of sync with your normal body clock might not be ideal preparation for a race, but I find there's not a huge amount you can do about it. Arrive in the city ahead of time if you can, try to get enough sleep, and drink plenty of water after your flight.
I try to embrace the early NYC mornings and enjoy the city before it wakes up. Coming from the U.K., it’s usually a five-hour time difference, which means it doesn’t seem like a horribly early start for us Europeans on race morning. In 2013, when cronuts from Dominique Ansel Bakery were all the rage, I was able to get in the 5:00 a.m. line for some perfect pre-race carb loading!
Be a Tourist—After the Race
Just like Marcus said, try to do your touristy stuff post-race. When I ran the Paris Marathon for the first time, I had climbed the Arc de Triomphe—and walked all over town—the day before. One mile into the race, my legs were already feeling it. Try to plan activities where you get to sit down, such as boat and bus tours prior to the race, and save the more active tourist hits until the days after. Moving is usually the best way to flush out your aching legs, and you can get epic shots of you with your medal across the city!
Don't Eat Anything Strange
I really regret eating the street vendor hot dog before the Chicago Marathon. Although you're away from home, try to pick pre-race meals that will be stomach friendly and save the culinary adventures for another time. I fully support carb loading and NYC does not disappoint—Levain Bakery cookies are particularly good!
But it might be a good idea to bring your pre-race breakfast of choice with you from home—or at least components of it. I always travel with squeeze tubes of my favorite peanut butter, knowing that I can pick up a banana with bread or a bagel quite easily. I even found English muffins when I ran in Tokyo.
Spectator National Pride
Get your spectators to get helium balloons with your country’s flag on it. That way they're easy to spot and it'll give a boost to other runners from back home, too. My mum brought Union Jack balloons to the course when I ran the New York City Marathon in 2013 and got a lot of attention for them.
If you are an international runner and have more tips for those traveling to run the TCS New York City Marathon, share them on social media—using #MovedMe. And for all your race-week questions, please check out the official marathon page.