The Big Day is about to arrive! These marathon tips include everything from what to expect the week before, how to create race plans and pre-race plans, strategies for the race and marathon tips to help with the post race recovery.

This chapter will give you all the information that is important for the big race and the prep during the week before.

Lets start with the cardinal rule: DO NOT TRY ANYTHING NEW!

Only use equipment you have tried, worn, or practiced with. This includes EVERYTHING! On the day of a race, do not try a new fanny pack. Do not try those new socks you just read about that are perfect for marathons. Do not try the new supplement that is supposed to give you the extra boost.

Test everything you plan to use during race day well beforehand. No matter how benign something may appear to be, there may be unforeseen consequences.

For those that haven’t read the Tapering section, which should occur one to two weeks in advance of the race, please go here


Carbo Loading and other Pre-Race nutrition

True carbo-loading is more than eating pasta the night before the big race. Proper loading involves a week-long process that starts with depleting the body’s carbohydrate reserves, followed by a high-carb diet by the end of the week. However, this process has shown few positive results for most runners. For some, the radical diet change throughout the week will negatively impact the race effort. For this reason we do not recommend a full carbo load. There is enough evidence that carb Heavy meals the day before is all you need.

Experimenting with new diets or foods before a race is not recommended as it can have counterproductive results. Instead, focus on maintaining a comfortable diet, especially in the last few days before the race, where carbohydrates are preferred over high-protein meals. On the night before the marathon, avoiding foods that take a long time to digest is best.

In summary, avoid trying new diets or weight-loss techniques during the week leading up to the race. Go heavy on the carbs in the last 48 hours. Stick to a familiar diet, and don’t add unnecessary stress to the already stressful week.

Back to the mantra DO NOT try anything new! 

Have a Plan

It is crucial to start your planning early and avoid leaving anything to the last minute. Unexpected events are bound to occur, and anticipating them is important. By handling every detail well beforehand, unnecessary anxiety can be avoided. Before the race, make sure to have two plans: one for the race itself, and the other for pre-and post-race.Start your planning early. Do not leave anything to the last minute. There will always be unexpected events that you did not anticipate. If you have handled every detail well beforehand, you will not create additional, unnecessary anxiety. Below are several plans you need to have before the race: One is for the race itself, and the other is for pre-and post-race.

PRE-Race Plan

If possible, drive the course before the event. If the race takes place in a city other than your own, you can always go to Google Maps and use Street View to visually navigate the course.

It is preferable to drive the course as it will give you better insight into where the hills are and how severe they are

Research exactly how to get to the starting line. Plan on getting there a full hour earlier than your initial assessment. There is no excuse for unforeseen circumstances that may arise to prevent you from getting to the starting line promptly. Take care of as many details as possible, such as who is driving, the route, and where you intend to park. Read the information on the pre-race. Every detail should be worked out in advance, from what you intend to wear to what you plan to eat on the morning of the race.

Many of the larger races use corrals. It is best to go into your proper corral. DO NOT move up a couple of corrals with the thought of banking time.
For people who are trying to get their best time, try to get towards the front of your corral.

Race plan

This is something you should be thinking about well in advance. Every race is different. A simple change in course conditions due to weather can change how you approach a race, even if it is on a course that you have run before. Plan for diverse factors and have multiple options.

Look for the tangents! Following the shortest route will shave minutes off your time. This helps in the later stages of the race when you are tired and not thinking as clearly.

If you have a time goal in mind, then it is good to know what your splits should be but don’t be a slave to your watch. 

 Pace is determined by the average time it takes to cover a distance over several miles. To keep your body in a relaxed state, you sometimes must allow the conditions to influence just how fast you are running.

Also, have alternative plans for the weather conditions. If it is going to be a super hot day, start dumping water on your body early to help mitigate the temperature.

On a hot day, DO NOT STOCK UP ON WATER! This will only throw your body out of balance. This will certainly impact your performance and can cause serious health problems. The majority of serious health problems are from people drinking too much liquid. Taking a few sips here and there is fine, but no need to take in a liter of water.

The rule is Drink when you are thirsty! Take sips of water here and there, just do not over do it! 

Post Race Plan

Have a plan in place for after the race on where you intend to meet you family or friends.

Have a Backup Plan in case that doesn’t workout.

Also, have yet another plan just in case you do not finish.

Keep contact numbers with you.

It is helpful to bring a fresh set of clothes to change into after the race. Even on a nice day bring something warm. 

Pre Race Marathon tips.

It is highly advisable to have everything in place the night before. You should be able to roll out of bed and without even looking be able to put on your clothes that you organized the night before. The bag that you intend to take with you should be fully packed and ready to go. This includes small details such, how you will get there, who is driving and directions. Take care of all details, no matter how minor, the night before.

For your breakfast on race day, it is best to avoid a big meal. It takes ebergy to process food. If you ate properly the nigh before you have all the stored energy you need. As an example, One English muffin and a small piece of fruit and some juice will prevent the stomach from demanding to be fed.

Avoid taking too much liquid; there is no reason to stock up before the race. If you do, once the adrenaline kicks in you will find yourself standing in long lines for the porta-potties. There is zero benefit in trying to over-hydrate before a race. Drinking before a race will also negatively impact your performance and can put you at risk for Hypnotramia.

The rule is drink to thirst. If you aren’t thirsty then do not drink more than a few sips If you are thirsty, then drink until your body says it has enough.

Again, make sure you get to the race with more than enough time to spare. If it is a large race such as L.A., Boston, or New York, also give yourself more than enough time to get into the corrals. The object is to save as much energy as possible. It takes energy to stand in place for an extended period of time, so help yourself to be comfortable.

Sitting takes less energy!!!!!

It is best to bring an extra piece of cloth to sit on, so the cold concrete doesn’t chill the body. Sit in the most relaxed position possible. Expect for people to bump into you. Avoid getting aggravated.

It is important to properly place yourself in the corral. It is counter-productive to get too close to the start line if you do not intend to run with the leaders or the people that are faster than you. For example a 5-hour marathoner should never jump in with the under 4-hour group. This will only lead to a overly fast start, no matter how hard you try and hit your pace.

Keep warm. Bring layers of clothing that you can shed as the start time approaches.
One good tip is to get sweat shirt from Good Will that can be removed and discarded moments before the start.

About 15 minutes before the race you should start to get physically ready. Stand up. Start with light stretches. Most likely there isn’t much room to move, so simply put both hands over your head and slowly stretch. A slight jog in place will get the heart going.

Race day tips for the Race

Do not go out too fast!!! For those that are running over sub-three hours, then I think you should have the mindset that the first six miles is just a warmup.

Focus on relaxing. Avoid the temptation to press the pace and bank time. It is common to hit mile markers and feel the best you have ever felt and want to increase the effort. This feeling is a combination of the crowd, the pack of runners and adrenaline. Avoid the temptation of increasing the effort out side of the predetermined target zone. If you still feel this way at mile 18, then go for it.

There is an entire section devoted to maintaining you body temperature. It will help to fully understand this topic. Click here for more information ( Body Temperature)

Remember your race plan.

After the first several miles when the pack thins out a bit, look to start running the tangents. Click here for more info. (Running the tangents)

Somewhere around 14-17 miles things usually start to get tough. This is where mental conditioning comes in. For those that followed the advice of “Do not go out to fast” instead of being passed, you will find yourself now passing a greater number of people. Use this to your advantage! Pick targets in front of you. Focus on reeling the other person closer to you. When passing the person, make sure you do not settle into their rhythm. After the pass pick your next target. The goal of this exercise is to break the race into smaller manageable goals.

This is the most critical portion of the race. By not focusing in on the big goal: The finish Line, you focus on the smaller goals of maintaining pace and proper breathing, which makes it easier to cover ground.

At a certain point, most people have to go into what is known as survival mode. Hopefully this point is well after mile 20 and not mile 14. There are tricks to get you through the difficult times. First make sure you are still hydrating properly. At this point the majority of the liquids should be a sports type of drink. If fruits such as bananas and oranges are being offered, then take whatever sounds good. Change the rhythm of your stride if you are struggling. Sometimes just shortening you stride will help. Set small goals. 

Hitting the Wall


It’s crucial to understand the difference between ordinary fatigue or exhaustion in the latter stages of a race and “hitting the wall.” For those who have experienced it, the difference is like night and day. Even experienced runners can be affected by this sudden change in energy levels, going from feeling relatively good to completely depleted. Hitting the wall occurs when your body runs out of easily convertible fuel, which may be coupled with dehydration. It’s absolutely critical to assess whether dehydration is a factor. If you experience dizziness and nausea along with hitting the wall, it’s a more severe situation. You must seek medical attention immediately. If you’ve hit the wall, don’t give up! Your approach to the race needs to change. Your goal now is to reach survival mode and finish the race, even if it’s slower than planned. Remember not to panic!

It is important to have a general understanding of what is happening to your body so you can get through this rough patch and finish the race. Essentially, you need more easy to burn fuel for your current pace fuel. However, this is a less-than-accurate statement. In reality, there is no easily convertible fuel in the form of blood glucose and muscle glycogen. Your body has plenty of fuel in the form of fatty acids and ATP. This, however, takes a lot more oxygen to convert back into energy. Just before the crash, that oxygen was used to maintain your pace. So something has to give. This is the reason why hitting the wall is different from general fatigue.

Some people describe hitting the wall as feeling like they have a huge weight on their shoulders. Pushing through this is not an option because it is impossible to maintain the necessary oxygen intake to keep up with the previous pace. To overcome this, it is necessary to slow down or even walk. Once the body starts burning fatty acids, it becomes difficult to maintain the proper oxygen level. At this point, it is important to take deep breaths to get air back into the oxygen-deprived body. The next step is to raise the blood glucose levels, which can be done by consuming energy gels or fruit and staying hydrated with water or sports drinks. Coca-Cola can also be helpful in this situation. Once the body stabilizes, it is possible to recover quickly and get back to the rhythm that will help you reach the finish line in a reasonable amount of time. Unlike general fatigue, getting back close to your original pace is possible.

To find out what to do as soon as your cross the line go to Post Marathon

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