You’ve put in the 16-20 weeks of training for your upcoming marathon. You put in the long runs, the progression runs, the tempo runs and even did some speed work for good measure. You know when you should take that gel, salt tablet or sports/carb drink supplement throughout the race and you’ve been eating well. You have a time goal or a goal to cross the finish line. You are ready, physically, as you are ever going to be. But did you think about the number of things to prepare for on, or, a day or two before, race day that could really make or break a wonderful running and life experience?
Have no fear, here are things to do either the week leading up to the race or race day itself:
Watch What You Eat
When you’re training for a marathon your mileage should be dropping quite a bit the last week or so before your race, so make sure you calorie intake is less than it has been over the last 3-4 months. Still eat healthy, but just have smaller portions. It’s easy to gain 2-5 lbs a week or two before race day if don’t watch what your ingesting.
No New Clothes or Shoes
Yes, I know you want to wear that cute or cool outfit from one of the running labels, but if you haven’t run in it before race day, I wouldn’t suggest it. You don’t want to chafe in places or have clothes riding all up on ya for 26 miles – that’s no good! Make sure whatever you are wearing on race day has been run in beforehand. Also, no new shoes. It’s one thing to get a new pair of the same model you are currently wearing, but don’t buy a new pair of shoes and save them for race day for the same reason as why you don’t wear new clothing.
Do You Know Where to Park and Traffic Conditions?
Read the marathon website and find out what road closures or where you can park or be dropped off. Is there a bus or shuttle from the parking space to the starting line? Are cars not even allowed within 2 miles of the starting line? Plan accordingly. You should want to be at the race at least 1-2 hours before the start, just for unforeseen issues. The bigger the marathon, the more I would take heed of knowing what to do in regards to driving/parking.
Eat Breakfast – No New Food
I know you will be excited and may not even be that hungry the morning of the race, but remember you will be out there most likely 3-5 hours and you’ll need fuel to get through it all. Yes, having a large dinner the night before will help, but make sure you have some sort of subsistence the morning of. Don’t start eating anything new on the day of the race. If you drink coffee usually then drink coffee. If you eat bananas usually then eat bananas. Just don’t start eating the “perfect pre-race marathon meal” you saw online or in a publication, if you’ve never eaten that sort of grub – again, nothing new on race day.
Pack Your Race Gear the Night Before
Go through a list of things you will need:
- Singlet/shirt – with number already pinned on
- Shorts/running pants – make sure you have the ones you like
- Hat/gloves – if cold weather
- Long-sleeved shirt – one you can throw away or toss if you get hot after the first few miles
- Vaseline/glide – to put on your body so no chaffing occurs
- Band-Aids – to cover those nipples gentlemen – again, you thank me on this one as well.
- Toilet paper – you never know what those port-o-potties will run out – you’ll thank me for this one!
- Cell phone – so you can call your loved ones after the race to find you
- Running shoes/socks – sounds silly, but people will forget these.
- Dry clothes and comfortable shoes (flip-flops) for after race
- Gels, GUs, salt tablets, energy drink, fuel belt, etc. – if you’ve been practicing with all this hydration and fuel, make sure you have it on race day.
Don’t Hang Out All Day at Expo the Day Before the Race
I get it, you may have traveled across country for this race and you want to soak it all in. That’s great, but don’t spend 2-3 hours walking around the race expo the day before the marathon – you need to rest those legs. If you want to spend some time there, then try to go 2-days before the race, if possible. If the expo is only for 1-day, then go early and get through it and then rest for the rest of the day.
Get Some Good Sleep All Week
It may be hard the day before the event to get a good night’s sleep, so make sure the week leading up to the marathon you get some good ZZZs. It’s crucial you are well rested come race day.
Keep Intensity Up but Volume Down
While you will be cutting your mileage by 30-70% come the last few weeks of your training cycle, make sure you keep the intensity of your workouts up, but just lessen the volume. You don’t want to run just slow and easy for 2-3 weeks and have your body forget how to run your race pace because you are worried about training too hard. Instead, keep your faster workouts in your training cycle, but just cut the mileage of them down.
I think you are ready now for your race! Good luck out there and remember training is just a part of the marathon process.