9 Last-Minute Marathon Tips

Your marathon training is done and you’re counting down the days until you toe the starting line of your marathon. Check out these pre-race tips to make sure you have the best possible marathon experience.

Wear your favorite running clothes.

Runners Warming Up Before Race
Chris Leschinsky

You may be tempted to wear new shoes or clothes because you think they may improve your race performance. However, you need to remember the golden rule of marathoning: Nothing new on race day. Your long runs are your opportunity to make decisions about your race gear. Don’t make the mistake of wearing new clothes or shoes. You never know if clothes or shoes will rub you the wrong way and lead to chafing, blisters, or other issues. Stick with what you know so that there are no surprises.

Stick to familiar foods.

Peanut Butter on Toast

The “nothing new on race day” rule also applies to your nutrition and hydration. Leading up to the race, stick to your familiar pre-long run meals. Don’t experiment with new foods because you think they may improve your performance. During the race, eat the same gels, bars, or other foods that you used in training. Mile 18 is not the ideal time to find out that a certain food doesn’t sit well in your stomach.

Get your support team ready.

You Got This sign
Getty Images

Being a marathon spectator is hard work, too, so make sure your family members and friends are prepared for a few hours of cheering and supporting. Share these tips for marathon spectators with them, so they know what to expect and have everything they’ll need.

Also see: Inspiring Marathon Signs
Funny Marathon Signs

Finalize your race day transportation plan.

Woman on computer
Photo by Tripod

Make sure you know exactly how you’re getting to the race, where you’ll park, or whether you’ll use public transportation. Take a look at the marathon website for recommendations on how to get there and check if there are any road closures that will affect your travel plans.

Also see: Marathon Morning Tips

Plan to get there early.

Photo by Michael Blann

Give yourself plenty of time to get to the race start. You'll need to give yourself time to use the porta-potty (lines can be very long), check your bag, and find your corral (if the race has them). Talk to other runners who have done the race in previous years (or read reviews on websites) to find out how early they recommend getting to the start.

Also see: Marathon Starting Line Tips

Get all your race day items ready.

Race bib
Photo by Gary John Norman

You don’t want to be scrambling the day before your marathon to try to find your favorite sports gel or more BodyGlide. Check out this packing list of everything that you'll need for your marathon and get everything together at least a few days before the race. Feeling prepared will decrease your anxiety about the race, which will help you sleep better.

Also see: What to Do the Day Before a Half or Full Marathon

Have a mantra ready.

Runner in race

It’s going to get hard at some point, and you’ll need to be prepared. Have a few phrases in mind that you’ll be able to keep repeating to get through the rough patches. Make sure your phrase doesn’t contain a negative word. For example, try not to say, “Don’t stop” because you may just hear the word “stop”. Instead, say something like, “Keep running strong.”  See this list of running mantras for some ideas.

Also see:  Mental Tips for Marathons

Think about your finishing pose.

Marathon Finish Photo
Getty Images

Picture how you want to pose for your photo as you run through the finish. Imagine what you'll be thinking as a volunteer puts your race medal around your neck. This kind of visualization will help you feel less anxious and more excited about your race.

 Also see: How to Look Good in Your Race Photos

Be prepared for post-race.

Marathon 26.2 finish sign
Getty Images

Your marathon recovery starts the moment you cross that finish line.  Make sure you prepare ahead of time for how you’ll be feeling post-race. Your body temperature will start dropping as soon as you finish, so put some warm, comfortable in your checked bag or have someone meet you at the finish line with clothes. Your legs may be too sore and tired to drive yourself home or back to your hotel, so make plans for how you’ll get back after you finish.

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