You sound like a very thoughtful person! As for your question, I would help ease his pre-race jitters by either listening to him talk about the race or keeping his mind off it. Some people (myself included) talk constantly about the race beforehand and talk out their strategies and whatnot...just nervous energy! Others prefer not to talk about it and keep their minds off it. Get a sense from him what he prefers and follow through with that.
Another thing I ALWAYS have to do before a race is take a drive or a bike ride over the course so I can get a feel for where the hills are and just get comfortable with the course. The bike ride is also a good relaxing thing to do while tapering that week or two before. Offer to go with him over the course if he wants. If you drive, offer to drive so that he can look out the window and see what is around.
The night before, he is going to be nervous and this is kind of the crucial night before the race. It is best not to try any new foods cuz he may have a nice surprise in his underwear during the race the next morning. I always carboload with a food that I am familiar with and know won't give me digestive problems. Let him choose what he wants. I also tend to eat later (8pm ish) so that the food isnt all digested by morning. Ask him what he wants to do.
On the night before the race, I tend to shut up all of a sudden after driving my roommates crazy with constant running talk. Don't be surprised or offended if this happens. It's just a different form of nervous energy that is kind of like the shock and reality is setting in. Talk about other things with him to keep him from worrying. Also, the night before, he might want to be alone and just be able to think to himself. Again, see what he prefers.
The weeks before the race, he might be antsy cuz he's tapering (if he's smart). Since he needs to taper and save his energy for the race, keep him busy with leisurely activities that will ease his anstiness. I go to movies, go shopping, do gardening, leisurely bike rides, go to the zoo, read a book in a book store, just to name a few. Ask him to go for a walk (slow--not workout pace!) so that he has stuff to do and he's out and about rather than just sitting and going nuts cuz he can't run.
After the race, give him a big hug after he crosses the finish line, no matter how bad he smells (and believe me, he will stink!). Take pictures to remember this great occasion by and videotape if he wants. Have water on hand cuz he will be dehydrated and thirsty. Oranges and lemons are also really good after a race in my opinion.
ONe of the BEST post-marathon gifts you can get him is a certificate to a massage therapist...and schedule it for that afternoon/night after the race if you can. The best thing he can to be recover after the long run is to get a full rubdown. Don't go to one of the salon type masseuses, though. Ask a sports medicine doctor to recommend some massage therapists. These guys know what they are doing and are much more effective than a spa type masseuse.
After the race, he is going to be pumped up and tired. Listen to him talk (again) about how proud he is of his accomplishment and show him how proud you are too. It's alot of hard work that finally pays off in that one morning. If he needs a nap, let him do it. I usually am too revved up to take one, but crash early that night after the race.
What you are doing right now is the single most important thing you can do for him...being there and supporting him. Let him know that you don't care if he comes in in 3 hours or 10 hours. It's his first one, so no pressure should be on him...chances are, he's putting the pressure on himself. Letting him know that you are proud of him and that you support him no matter what is enough to keep him going. Or at least it is for me. When he sees you cheering him on at the race, he will see the support and appreciate it like words cannot explain.
Best of luck to both of you and let me know how it comes out! Christine
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