With the marathon less than two weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about race day, and everything you need to do to prepare for the big day. The night before the big race you’ll be full of emotions, nervousness, excitement, and more. The most important thing to remember is not to try anything new on race day; stick to everything you’ve been doing during your training and you’ll have a great run.
The definitive pre-race checklist for marathon runners:
- Pick-up your race package. Try to get your race package as early as possible to avoid the last minute frenzy, which can increase your stress level. It’s also important when you pick up your race package to confirm your name/bib number and that you are seeded in the right corral.
- Know the course. Study the course map so you know where there will be water, electrolyte, gel, aid, and washroom stations. Know where there are hills. Even better, drive the race route so you can visualize your run so there are no surprises.
- Check the weather. Weather will play an important roll on race day – from how much hydration you’ll need to the type of clothing you will wear.
- Prepare your gear. Charge your pace watch and iPod, have the Band-Aids and Body Glide ready to go, and grab your sunglasses. Pin your race bib to your shirt and attach the timing chip to your shoe. Load up your hydration belt with water, ID, emergency contact information/medical card, cash, gels, and hydration. You’ll be in a hurry race morning and you don’t want to forget anything! Remember, don’t change anything on race day – stick to the gear you’ve been training in for the last 17 weeks!
- Follow your nutrition plan. Carb-loading should happen starting 5 days before the race. The night before should be a lighter meal. Stay away from alcohol, deep-fried and fatty foods, and refined sugar. Stick to whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and pasta. Add an extra of extra salt to every meal because your body will need it on race day.
- Encourage friends and family to come. Seeing people along the race route is exciting. Try to get them to bring signs with inspirational or humous messages like, “Run Like You Stole Something”, “Worst Parade Ever”, “Don’t Stop, People Are Watching You”, “Keep Going, You’re Almost There”, “Way To Go [Name]”, etc. Cowbells and noise makers are also welcomed.
- Get extra sleep. The most important sleep is two nights before the race. You want to try to get nine hours of sleep. Most likely you’ll be too excited or nervous about the race the night before that you won’t sleep as well, plus you have to get up early to make it to the start line.
- Set the alarm clock. Sounds obvious, but you don’t want to sleep in. Keep your mind at ease and set two alarms or have a friend call you to make sure you are up at the appropriate time on race-day morning.
- Relax! Have a bath, watch a movie, or search for funny videos on YouTube. Do whatever you can to take your mind off the race and to enjoy the quiet evening.
- Know your post-race strategy. Clearly communicate the night before where you’ll be meeting up with friends and family at the finish line, especially at larger races. See if someone can bring a bag with your dry clothes to change into, water, and post-race nutrition. Know how you’ll get from the finish line back home or to the hotel, especially knowing larger races won’t be accessible by car.
Remember, many things can happen on race day that you may not expect, or are out of your control. Stay relaxed, be in control, and put trust in your training.