6 Half Marathon Race Day Tips

I’m so jealous of everyone about to run their spring half marathons! I was 2 weeks into training for the NYC Half when I started working with my nutritionist and she advised against it. (Insert crying emoji)

That’s why I’m excited to join the Race Day Tips linkup hosted by You Signed Up For WHAT?!Running on HappyBrooklyn Active MamaOrganic Runner Mom, and Coach Debbie Runs.

Here are my half marathon race day tips (which can be applied to the marathon too):

Read these 6 half marathon race day tips  before your next big race! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Don’t Worry About Sleep The Night Before

Now, I’m not saying don’t worry about sleep at all. Definitely TRY to get sleep. But if you don’t, don’t worry about it. The night before isn’t as important as the week leading up to the race. For a full week, or more, before the big race, you should be trying to get your best sleep yet. I’ve gotten 2-3 hours of total sleep before a 5K before and somehow PRed.

I remember last summer we had a long training run in Central Park with NYRR and I got legit 3 hours of sleep (I’ll explain in a sec), and that was my best paced long run up until then! For some reason when I have a big race or long run the next day, I just toss and turn all night thinking about how I have to get up early and run. And worrying about whether I’ll be able to do it. But as long as I’m well rested from the week before, it has not affected me.

Watch Something Motivational 

I love watching elite runner’s race videos the night before a half marathon or marathon. It just pumps me up and then on race day I envision myself running as smoothly as them. Runners who inspire me are Shalane Flanagan (obv), Jenny Simpson (can’t believe I ran with her once in Central Park!), Brenda Martinez, Emma Coburn, Molly Huddle and Kara Goucher. Go follow them on Instagram to see their workouts and and stuff! 

Here are a few videos I’ve watched to get me pumped in the past…my mentality is, if they can put in all this hard work and gut it out, so can I:

FloTrack also has great videos following athletes in their workouts – those motivate me for races AND every day runs:

Take Lots of Pictures and Video

My mom is great at this – she doesn’t get nervous before any race. She will take photos and videos…be smiling throughout the morning. I’m usually a hot mess and can barely eat my oatmeal. I’ll be like OMG MOM STOP YOU’RE SO ANNOYING. Yet, after the race is over, I’m like “Can I see all your photos and videos??” lol

This past NYC Marathon I told her I’d be less cranky and try to take more photos and videos too so she can be in them. Since I felt so amazing (read my NYC Marathon recap here), I took the majority of video that day, which you can watch in this recap video I made…and maybe use it as motivation too :)

If you have spectators, you can ask them to take photos as well…maybe they’ll capture gems like this one from my first marathon:


I laugh every time I see this photo.

And that’s it too – you will want even the bad photos to look back on! :-)

Focus On Details When The Going Gets Tough

This is a tip my friend, who is a therapist, gave me. She knows I struggle with mental strength when things get hard in a race. So her tip is this: When you start feeling tired or like you’re struggling, start focusing on all of your senses. What do you see? Focus on the details. The bead of sweat on the person in front of you. The waving flag in the distance. Or what do you hear? Focus on the crowd? What chants do you hear? Listen to the breathing and footfalls of the runner next to you. Or the conversation going on behind you. Really get detailed with it. It distracts your mind, at least for a little bit.

Add Intervals Towards The End (If You’re Struggling)

This has helped me in countless races, whether 5K or marathons. If you’re struggling in the last mile or 2, start doing intervals. It will help time go by faster and the changing of paces helps switch things up. Distance depends on how I feel. I will pick up my pace from one light pole to the next, and then slow it back down. If I have a watch, I will pick up the pace for 1 minute, then slow down for 1 minute. If I’m REALLY struggling, it will be more like 30 seconds. But as long as you continue that forward motion, you’re getting closer and closer to the finish.

Take In The Finish Line

It’s so easy to sprint (or try to) towards the finish and want to just be DONE. But really take it all in. This past NYC Marathon was the first time I really did that, and it brought tears to my eyes. Look around you – all these runners are in the same boat, and all of you are accomplishing your goals. You did it! You crossed the finish. Stop and just take it all in, snap a picture if you have your phone. Get a volunteer to take a photo of you. Smile!!!

I hope these tips help! As I was writing these and looking through my race photos, it just made me miss running so much. I can’t wait to get back out there with my mom. 

What spring races are you doing? Do you like taking lots of race day pics and videos?


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  1. These are all really great tips! I like the idea to focus on the details to get through the tough parts…I definitely need to give that a try! And your videos during the NYC marathon were so cool!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Don’t Forget These Half Marathon Race Day TipsMy Profile

  2. I usually add intervals in a race when I am struggling. It helps me from wanting to give up completely, especially when I’m super tired!
    kimberly G recently posted…My First Cycle for Survival ExperienceMy Profile

  3. I love getting pumped up watching something inspirational. I still love watching the story of PRE
    Sandra Laflamme recently posted…Half Marathon Race Day TipsMy Profile

  4. Yes to the intervals. Especially for a marathon. When I trained for my first marathon I thought I could for sure run the entire distance. It never occurred to me to walk. When my IT band brought my running to a grinding halt, I quickly realized it was possible to walk and sometimes necessary. Now I know it’s all good to take walk breaks. :)
    Rachel recently posted…13.1 Tips and Tricks for Your Best Race DayMy Profile

  5. I am terrible about taking pictures during the race. I can do a pre race selfie and then that is about it! It takes way to much coordination! You mentioned all good points! I have to take into consideration chafing and sunburns so I need to have my products ready :)
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…Gasparilla Lime Cactus Challenge Race Recap- Day 1My Profile

  6. Ha who can sleep the night before?! Great tips and I hope you are feeling better soon and able to train again
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Planning My Race ScheduleMy Profile

  7. I’m so sorry you were advised against it. :( However, I’m sure there’s a method to all the madness and you’ll be back, stronger and better than ever.

    I love all these tips. I especially love the one about watching something motivational the night before. I haven’t tried that yet, but I could see it getting me very pumped up!
    Jenn recently posted…race report: march to get screened 5k run/walk {3.5.2017}My Profile

  8. I’ve done 31 half marathons, and don’t think I’ve ever thought of mixing in a few intervals. That’s a great strategy to shift the focus and recharge!
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…When in Florida….Sombrero Beach Run 10KMy Profile

  9. Great tips! I’m not good about taking pics during a race. I tend to fumble with my phone and lose lots of time–the only race I really stopped and took a lot of pics was Big Sur. There was no time goal for that one. It was all about the experience.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Are You a Raceplanner? Or a Racecrastinator?My Profile

  10. You’re right: I’m rarely a race picture taker but the ones I do have are priceless! Great tips!

  11. I always run intervals during my races. It definitely helps me to conserve energy and to make sure that I can safely made it to the finish line.
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…My Goals for Saturday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half MarathonMy Profile

  12. Your tips are awesome! I love the interval tip – thanks!!!
    Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?! recently posted…13.1 Half Marathon Race Day TipsMy Profile

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