Ten Race Day Tips for Running a Marathon

race day marathon tips

I recently ran a marathon.  26.2 miles.  It was fun… mostly.  This was my third marathon, but the last one I did was over 7 years ago!  My dad has done all 3 with me and this one was his 16th or 17th!  And, he has only been doing them for 9 years!  How amazing is it that he became a marathoner at the age of 47?  He’s my hero :).  So, all of these tips are pretty much from him.  He’s way more of an expert than me!  We both learned a few things this race- as everyone probably does with each race.  So, here are 10 tips for running a marathon that can really be applied to any race!

list png10. Make a list: I am a list maker.  For everything!  But, I did not make a list of all the stuff I needed to have ready the morning of the race.  So, do you know what I did for about a week before the race?  I had nightmares every single night!  I wasn’t even really nervous about the race because I wanted to run it slow and just have fun. But, I worried every night about whether or not I had everything ready!  So, a week or so before the race, make a list of every little single thing you think you might possibly need.  Even if you are not traveling, I would still “pack” for the race.  Just so you have everything ready to go.

9. Thrift Store: Most races I have done, the starting line is pretty cold.  And, you are hanging around for an hour or more waiting for the race to start.  Races usually provide bags that you can put your stuff in and then pick up at the finish line, which is great, but there are 2 cons to this. 1- You have to have the bag, with all your warm gear, in the truck at least 15 minutes prior to the race. 2- After the race you have to find you bag, or wait for someone to find it for you.  So, I have learned, from my dad, to go the thrift store and buy warm gear that you can just take off as you get warm.  This last race, I got a winter coat and some jogging pants.  I had an old hoodie that I also wore, and the race provided us with cheap gloves.  I took the coat and pants (get ones that you can easily slip over your shoes) off before the race.  Then, I took the hoodie off at one of the first aid stations.  The race company will just re-donate all your stuff!  The people we usually do races with like to have a competition to see who can look the most ridiculous.  It’s pretty fun!

8. No Cotton: I used to not think much about workout gear, but over my running and workout years have come to realize how important gear can be!  One of my biggest suggestions, especially with long distances, is NO COTTON!  Not even and especially cotton socks.   I only got a tiny tiny blister on one of my toes this race, which is pretty darn good for a marathon.  I also did not chafe at all, anywhere.  I attribute this to the lack of cotton in my attire.

7. Equipment: Running long distances often times requires a lot of “stuff.” Just make sure whatever stuff you are running with, is stuff you are used to running with.  Don’t try out new things on race day.

finish line6. Finish Line: Find out exactly where the finish line is and go see it if you can.  My first 2 marathons, I had no idea where the finish line was.  We passed the 26 mile mark, and the .2 miles to the finish line felt like forever!!!! This time, I figured out where it was, and at the end, I knew how much longer we had to go.  It was SO much better!  Now, for some people, this might not be best, everyone is different.

5. Fuel Properly: At aid stations, when you have the option of water or a sports drink, choose the sports drink.  Your body is doing a lot of work, and water does not replenish everything that is lost.  I get a cup of both and drink all of the sports drink, and then just a sip or two of water to wash it down.  Also, take gu, or other food.  Same as above, long distances require a lot from your body.  You can start to break down glycogen stores, so it is best to stay ahead of that.  If you feel thirsty, you are either already dehydrated, or have started into your glycogen stores, so drink as often as necessary.

IMG_10284. Talk to Yourself: I do this a lot while I run, but during a marathon, especially at the end, I talk to myself a lot.  My dad runs with me and we talk to each other the whole time, but I also have a conversation with myself.  When it gets hard, you need to give yourself a little pep talk.  “You trained for this, you are ready, you can do hard things.”  Then, at the end tell yourself you are almost there!  Tell yourself how amazing you are and how awesome of a thing you are about to accomplish! I love the quote above.  It is great when you think you cannot possibly go any farther.

3. Have a Goal: Goals are a great thing to have.  Now, just because you are running a marathon, does not mean your goal has to be a time!  I did not have a time goal this last marathon.  I had not trained properly, therefore, I knew setting a goal of a fast marathon would not be smart of me.  So, I had the goal to run at a comfortable pace with my dad, and enjoy the fact the my body is healthy enough to run that far!  So, whatever your goal may be, set one because accomplishing that goal will feel amazing!

2. Have Fun: Whatever goal you set, set another one to have fun!  For most people, running races is not their job, it is a hobby!  And hobbies are supposed to be fun, right?  So, make sure you are enjoying yourself!

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1. Be Nice to Yourself: Above all else, be nice to yourself.  If you are having an “off” running day, you can’t really do much about that.  Weather conditions are out of your control.  So, if you aren’t doing as well as you thought you would, don’t stress about it!  Be nice to yourself, and enjoy the race!


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