You’ve been training for months and all your hard work is going to pay off when you complete your first marathon. It’s an accomplishment you’ll have for the rest of your life and no one can ever take it away from you. Do you have a game plan for the day before the race? There are a few very simple things you can do the day before your marathon that will help make sure you have a great race day experience.
- Stay Off Your Feet
Avoid long lines, shopping at the mall and the DMV. You’d be surprised what a toll standing around can take on your body. If you have nervous energy take a short walk or short run. It also easy to get caught up in pre-race activities like waiting for free samples or water bottles or your race packet. If you can, have a family member or close friend stand in line for you. You need to relax and rest as much as possible the day before your race. No one should feel guilty about putting their feet up the day before a marathon.
- Avoid New Foods
Stick to the foods that work for you. Now is not the time to try that new spicy Chilean restaurant down the street or experiment with a new recipe you found online. Eat the things that have not given you a stomachache or digestive problems in the past. There’s nothing worse than twenty-six miles of looking for the nearest port-a-can. Many runners try to load up on pasta and breads in the days leading up to the race. This can be helpful but don’t overdo it. In other words, don’t eat more than you normally would.
- No Alcohol
That’s right no shots of Jager before your big run! Alcohol dehydrates your body, reduces your ability to burn fat, affects your blood sugar levels and your body isn’t designed to store it. You should not have liquor, cider, wine or even beer the day before your race. You can go on a keg stand bender AFTER you’ve completed your marathon and it will be much more satisfying.
- Drink Water
No, it’s not exciting but it’s the best thing for you. Staying hydrated is essential the day before and the day of your race. If your urine is dark yellow, you need to drink more water. If you feel you need it, you can have a sports drink but stay away from sodas and other carbonated drinks as they are high in both sodium and sugar. Coffee drinks should also be avoided but one cup shouldn’t hurt as long as you drink enough water to counterbalance it as coffee also dehydrates the body.
- Gear Up
Do you have your clothes for the race ready to go? Are they items you’ve worn while running long distances before? I once foolishly decided to wear a new cotton shirt during a marathon and my nipples were bleeding at mile twenty. I’ll never forget the embarrassment of having to stop so a nurse could apply Vaseline to my nipples while a few thousand spectators watched in amusement. Make sure your socks, shoes, shorts and shirt are all battle tested for distance running.
- Know the Route
There will be plenty of other runners you can follow but having a general knowledge of the route can really help prepare you mentally for the grand task at hand. Hills are especially brutal after fifteen miles so if you know where they are located along the route you can prepare your body and mind for them.
- Treat Your Feet
You’re going to be abusing them for over twenty-six miles? Make sure your feet are in good working order. Don’t let a long uncut toenail or untreated blister keep you from finishing your marathon.
- Just the Essentials
A few ounces of extra weight may not seem like much, but they can really slow you down over the length of a marathon. You don’t need your phone; you don’t need a back-pack and you don’t need to be carrying anything in your hands. I’ve seen hundreds of runners wear themselves out by carrying too many accessories along a marathon route. If you’re worried about having enough water most respected races offer water every few miles and some offer gel packs after mile twenty.
None of this is brain surgery but you’d be surprised at how many people decide to run a marathon in a brand-new pair of shoes or eat too much the night before. You are the only one that can get yourself through it. Make sure you’re well prepared with these eight simple tips for having an excellent marathon race day experience. Good luck!
Photo Credits for “Eight Ways To Have A Great Marathon”:
“Runners Staying Hyrdated” – mgstanton via photopin cc
“Carb Loading is Common” – jeffreyw via photopin cc
“Water Is Best” – Brave Heart via photopin cc
“Marathon Gear” – CC Chapman via photopin cc
“Blog Thumbnail Image” – tfxc via photopin cc
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