How to Train for a Marathon (Part III)

When race day comes you don’t have to try to do extra to prepare. Stick to your normal routine.

Race Day Tips

Don’t attempt anything new on race day including no new shirt, shoes, or shorts. Don’t drink four cups of coffee if you always have just one. Your long training runs are when you must fine-tune your gear, clothing, and fueling strategies.

Before the Race

Hydrate well for a number of days going up to your marathon. Drink a huge glass of water before you go to bed the evening before race day. Drink another one in the morning.

Eat a light, high-carbohydrate breakfast a number of hours before the beginning of the race. Bars, bagels, oatmeal, and fruit all are excellent. 

Layer up with Vaseline in any spots vulnerable to chafing. You most likely learned where during training runs.

Get to the starting line beforehand. If need be, go to the port-a-potty at least 40 minutes before the official start time. The lines might be long.

The temperature usually rises over the progression of the race, so don’t overdress. If you’re really chilly at the start, put an oversize trash bag over you to stay warm until the starting gun goes off.

If you decide to run with music, check ahead of time whether earbuds are allowed in the race; not all marathons allow them. Running with headphones can be hazardous if you don’t hear what’s going on around you, especially if you’re not on a closed course. Lastly, there’s something special about hearing the sounds of the crowds and your fellow runners.

During the Race

Begin slowly. It’s easy to get sucked up in race-day hype. But beginning too fast is a huge rookie mistake. There will be lots of miles over which to increase your pace if you’re feeling amazing.

Don’t fly pass every aid station or try to drink something while running full speed. Either practice drinking while running before race day or just stop for a couple of seconds to drink.

Bathroom lines are longest at the first few aid stations. If you can wait for another few miles without discomfort, it might save you time.

If you have a friend coming to cheer you on, plan ahead at which places along the course she or he will meet you. A friend along the way can be a big boost.