Race Day is quickly approaching and there is no turning back now.

All the long runs, strength training sessions, painful blisters, black toenails, and sore muscles will be put to the test. All of the blood, sweat, and tears over the course of training culminate in this one day and you are ready.

Now all that is left to do is make some fantastic memories.


Plan for success

Unfortunately many runners find their first marathon experience disappointing at best and completely miserable at worst.

Often times the difference between a positive race experience and a negative one comes down to planning, and I am not talking about your training plan. I am talking about how you prepare for everything besides running.

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.

The tapering period of your marathon training program is a perfect time to make a plan for the week leading up to your race.

Time to prep for race day

You are likely becoming anxious and/or irritable but rather than waste energy worrying and stressing out about things that you can’t control, use that time to focus on the things that you can control and plan your strategy.

Here are some tips for the week leading up to your race and tips for race day:

One week out:


You have spent months pushing your body to its limits it deserves a little TLC. Stretch and use a foam roller to release tight and sore muscles daily. Attempt to go to bed 30 minutes earlier every night and take short naps during the day if your schedule allows.

Fuel your body

Carb loading is something that many of you have already heard about or will hear about but despite its notoriety carb loading is often misunderstood and misused.

Your body can store only so much glycogen in the muscles and overloading on carbohydrates will likely do nothing for your performance and leave you feeling sluggish and heavy on race day. Consuming a few extra carbohydrates each day in the week leading up the race will help top off your glycogen stores, just don’t go overboard.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Make sure to consume adequate amounts of water daily leading up to your race in order to toe the line well hydrated and ready to go.

2-3 days before:

Confirm travel plans

If you are planning to travel, make sure to confirm your hotel, flight, and rental car reservations so that there are no surprises the day before your race.

If you are staying in an unfamiliar area make sure to do your research and find restaurants and/or grocery stores that provide the type of food you are comfortable with as you do not want to put anything new and untested on your stomach the night before or day of your race.

marathon running survival guide_2Weather check

Check the weather forecast so that you can pack accordingly if you are traveling. In my humble opinion it is better to overpack than underpack so make sure to take clothing appropriate for the various weather conditions that might arise.

If you are not traveling, it is still wise to check the weather in order to dress appropriately on race day. There is nothing worse than being dressed inappropriately when you have to run 26.2 miles.

Starting line

Plan how you will get to the starting line on the morning of the race. If you are being dropped off make sure to confirm with whoever is taking you. If you are driving yourself, make sure to have money for parking (if needed) and directions based on what roads will be closed for the race.

Day before:

Packet pick-up

Take advantage of early packet pick-up when offered to reduce race day stress.

Proper fueling

Make sure to eat a dinner that you know will not upset your stomach. This is not the time to try something new or eat a heavy, fattening meal.

Equipment check

Make sure all electronic gadgets are charged and working and place them with your race day gear.

Pack your finish line bag

If the race allows you to check a bag and you plan to use this service, pack all necessary items the night before so that you do not forget anything important.

Lay out clothes/shoes/fuel

Lay out the clothing and shoes that you plan to wear for the race. Pin your race bib to your shirt, check your shoelaces, and make sure you have your lucky underwear.

Make sure you have enough race day fuel (energy gels, blocks, dried fruit, etc.) and place it with your gear.

Plan breakfast

You should have been testing foods over the course of training so make sure to plan breakfast according to what you found gave you the most energy without stomach upset.

Set alarm

Give yourself plenty of time in the morning to eat, dress, and get to the start line without feeling rushed.

Race day

Early arrival

Get to the start line with plenty of time to spare to reduce anxiety. Check your bag if you are doing so and take a few deep breaths.

Warm up

Perform your typical warm up. Please do not try any new moves you see someone else doing as this is bound to be a poor decision.

Trust in your training

You have been training for this race for months so trust in your training and enjoy the experience.

Now that you are at the starting line and the adrenaline is flowing just let your body do what it does best but most of all have fun!

I’m always listening so if you need help with a running program, have questions or are looking for a running coach you can find me on my Expert Profile page. Happy running friends!!

Connect with Expert Pauline Shiver.

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