4 Ways to Get Familiar With the Race Course

If the half marathon you signed up for has a monster hill at mile three, wouldn't you like to know that ahead of time? Of course. But unless the race is in your hometown on roads you're familiar with, how are you supposed to know what a course has in store for you?

There are ways, especially in this amazing digital age we're living in. And for numerous reasons, it's worth being on top of. Not only does familiarity with the course eliminate surprises that might otherwise wreck your race strategy (like that monster hill), but knowing the course you're running will be immensely helpful toward your mental preparation, as well.

Here's how to head into a race with an intimate knowledge of the course you'll be running.

More: 10 Race-Day Preparation Tips

Drive It

If the race is in your area, get in the car and drive the route. Most established races will have a course map on their site, which at the very least gives you an idea of what streets you will be running on. Take that map, get in the car and get a first-hand look.

If you're traveling for your race, show up a few days early and motor through it. You'll be amazed how much it puts you at ease going into the event.

More: 6 Tips for Running While You Travel

Run It

Golfers play practice rounds on the course leading up to a big tournament. It can't hurt to do a practice run for the same reason.

While you may be tapering in the days before the race, it's wise to head to a section of the course and get a light run in. The physical benefits are miniscule, but the mental advantages will be noticeable once the race begins.

Google Maps

Technology is amazing. If you know the streets your race will be on, head to Google Maps and use the "Street View" to get a point-of-view look at certain parts of the course. While this won't work if your race is on trails or paths, it's great for road races—especially if you're an out-of-towner who won't have time to personally explore the course in advance.

More: Should You Run Gadget-Free?

Contact the Race

Though many races have websites, and put user-friendly course maps on those websites, it's possible that events have even more information about the course than they've publicized. Some races have more detailed maps, or elevation charts, or even flyover videos. Oftentimes, the event staff is more than happy to assist if you reach out. If you're wondering about the big hills or the type of terrain or anything else, send them an email, give them a call or reach out via their Facebook page.

It could lead to a tidbit of information that will have you feeling calm and confident before the starting gun goes off.

More: 9 Race-Day Tips for Your First 5K

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About the Author

Ryan Wood

Ryan Wood is an editor for Active.com. He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.

Ryan Wood is an editor for Active.com. He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.

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