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10 tips for Tackling the Malibu Half Marathon in Fine Form

When Race Day finally arrives for the Malibu Half Marathon, you’ll probably be so pumped by the anticipation and the excitement of it all that you’ll want to sprint right out of the gates.

But hold your horsepower.

Here at Malibu Half Marathon HQ, we want everyone to get to the finish line in great shape. That means you’re feeling healthy, happy and strong when you meet up with family and friends at Zuma Beach for the post-race festival.

To get you there in top form, we asked our resident running expert and trainer, Ted McDonald, for some pointers. A Malibu resident on and off for 20 years, avid trail runner, yoga expert, and owner of Malibu’s 5 Point Yoga studio, Ted developed a complete set of training programs specifically for Malibu Half Marathon runners. Here’s his best advice for running a strong race.

1. Two nights before Race Day

Chances are, you won’t be getting a good night’s rest the night before the race. You might be too excited or nervous to sleep much. Plus, you’ll need to get up really early to arrive on time to take place at the start line by 6:30 am (we recommend arriving between 4:30 and 6:00 am. Don't worry, we'll have plenty of vendors and fellow runners to keep you company).

So, make sure you get 8 hours or more of restful sleep the night before the night before the event.

2. Night before Race Day

“Carb loading” with a big bowl of pasta the evening prior to a race is an outdated bit of advice, Ted says. Just make sure you eat a solid, healthy dinner. For Ted, this means a well-balanced meal with good fats and proteins like a piece of salmon or chicken with sweet potatoes, broccoli or other veggies. Also, drink plenty of water.

Before you head to bed, make sure you’re properly packed for the big day. Get your running outfit, shoes, race bib, water bottle, car keys and other essentials all ready to grab-and-go so you’re not scrambling to get out of the house in the morning.

3. Morning of Race Day

Ted recommends that you eat some solid food at least 90 minutes to 2 hours before running. That way, you give your body enough time to digest the food and avoid cramping during the race. As a “fat-burning” runner, Ted likes to eat avocados, eggs and a handful of nuts for his pre-race breakfast.

4. The starting line

The start of the race goes by very quickly. From the starting line, you’ll hit a short downhill slope that crosses a small creek. A word of caution here: The creek is wet and slippery, therefore the race organizers build a ramp to safely take you over the wet area, and it could be a bit tricky to navigate with thousands of excited runners all packed together. Then you’ll take a left on Westward Beach Road, and turn left again to hit the Pacific Coast Highway.

Now, you’re really running!

5. Miles 1-2

“After the excitement of the starting line, you want to find your rhythm,” Ted says. “Relax your shoulders. Get a feel for how you’re running. You never know how you’re going to feel until you get out there. Decide what pace to set for yourself and resist the temptation to go too fast, even though you’re probably feeling pretty strong at this point.”

At Mile 2, with the Trancas Country Market in view across PCH on your right, you’ll hit your first hill of the day. Prepare for a long, slow climb. “This is where I kind of power down and engage,” Ted says. “I’m taking shorter steps to get up the hill.”

6. Miles 3-4

After cresting the hill, you’ll drop down fast toward Broad Beach. But almost immediately, you’ll start climbing again in the direction of El Matador Beach. This hill will be steeper than the previous one.

“This is why you don’t want to go too fast on the first hill because the second climb will be steeper,” Ted says. “This is where I’m conserving my energy, taking shorter steps and making sure I have enough to get myself up the steep climb.”

7. Miles 5-6

Once you reach El Matador Beach at Mile 4, you’re in for a long, slow descent. Yipee! Enjoy a breather before you head into another climb — less steep, this time. By now, you should be fully warmed up, and this little downhill slope will give you the final push to make it to the turnaround marker.

8. Miles 7-9

You’ve made it to the halfway point. As you make your way to the finish line from here, you’ll be climbing up the “backside” of that earlier downhill slope, as you head back toward El Matador Beach again. As with the descent, the ascent here is a long, gentle climb.

9. Miles 10-13

Now for the fun part! After you crest the hill at El Matador Beach, it’s almost all downhill from here, except for a few small rolling hills.

Then a tricky thing happens when you reach Trancas Canyon again. Mentally at this point, you’re just about ready to finish the race and get on with the post-race festivities. But when you look down the flat stretch ahead, you’ll realize that you actually have another two miles to go before the finish line!

“All racing, in my opinion, is about conserving your energy for the last 10-15% of the race,” Ted says. “Ideally by Mile 10 or 11, you have enough left to finish strong. What happens is that some people reach Trancas and they feel burned out. They hit the wall. That’s something you want to avoid by working on your endurance during training and pacing yourself from the start of the race.”

10. The finish line

Congrats, you’ve made it! Just imagine the cheers of the crowd as you cross the finish line. Collect your hardware and enjoy everything the post-race festival has to offer, including a beer garden, a Dj, great Sponsors activations, good eats, and the Charity/VIP lounge.

Some final tips

Due to the out and back nature of the course (what goes up also goes down), the total elevation climb is 330 feet, which makes it perfect for anyone looking to attempt a personal record — or just looking for a gorgeous, well-organized event. If you don’t already have a ticket, we recommend to Register now since our event typically sells out well in advance.

Before Race Day, Ted recommends taking a close look at the course to know where you’ll be able to grab water, fuel gels, and bathroom breaks if necessary.

He recommends sipping a bit of water at every water station that you pass, but don’t go overboard and drink too much. Water stations will be at every mile.

Energy gels from Honey Stinger will be available at Mile 6 and 7. If you use energy gels, you might consider training with the Honey Stingers to make sure you’re familiar with the taste and texture to avoid an upset stomach on Race Day.

Lastly, be sure to enjoy yourself and #runbeautiful. After all, you’re running along one of the most stunning coastlines in America.

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