How to Prep the Week of Your Marathon

It’s marathon week, so that means this whole week all I’m pretty much thinking about is the big race.  There are lots of things to do to prepare, so today I thought I’d share some of those things with you!  (these are in no particular order)

1.  Drink lots of water.  It’s important to hydrate well throughout the week, so keep your water intake up!

2.  Carbo-load smartly.  Ideally, carbo-loading starts 2-3 days prior to your race, so don’t wait until the night before the race to try to shovel down a bunch of pasta.  This article from Runner’s World is a great guide on how to carbo load properly.

3.  Finalize your playlist.  The last thing you want to do is waste time messing around on your phone, so if you run with music make sure you have your running playlist all set!  (I still need to do this…)

4.  Charge your GPS watch, bluetooth headphones, and phone.  Nothing worse than waking up the morning of your race and realizing your watch is low on batteries.  Make sure to charge everything overnight!  (I use the 5 year old version of this watch and love it, and use these wireless headphones and LOVE them.  I recently bought this Koala Clip pouch to carry my phone on my back tucked under my bra straps.  I really like it and it’s a great alternative to race belts which I hate.)

5.  Prep your fuel for the race.  It’s important to already know what works for you on a run, so be sure to have all the tried and true fuel you’ll need during the race.  Which reminds me…I need to go to the store and grab some Swedish Fish (a candy I only eat on runs)!

6.  Cut your toenails.  It’s really important to cut your toenails before your race so that they’re not too long.  I’ve forgotten before and my big toenails were too long and it made my toes hurt.  Sometimes your smaller toenails can rub on the sides of your other toes too, so freshly cut toenails are the way to go.

7.  Plan your pre-race breakfast.  It’s important that you’ve practiced your pre-race breakfast on some of your longer training runs so that you know how it will affect your stomach.  Peanut butter or almond butter on a waffle or bagel is my go-to, plus coffee and water.  And it’s especially important to think about this if you’re staying in a hotel because often the race will start before hotels start serving breakfast.  (Note to self, go buy some bagels.)

8.  Pick up your race packet.  Race expos are always big events so it’s important to plan ahead.  If you’re not able to pick your packet up in person make sure you read the fine print and/or contact the race team by email.  We just realized that my brother won’t be arriving from Atlanta until the expo is over, and the website specifically states that you must pick up your own packet.  He emailed the race team to let them know of his situation and they said for him to forward their correspondence to me so that I can show it at the expo so that I can pick up his packet for him.  It’s so important to read the fine print and plan ahead!  

9.  Plan your outfit. If it’s chilly, wear your least favorite clothes on top and drop them at donation points.  Most races will take donated clothes to charity, since you normally end up shedding layers once you warm up.  Make sure you’re wearing items you’ve worn before.  You don’t want to wear a brand new pair of shorts and then realize at mile 1 that they chafe.  Wear tried and true pieces that you know work for your body.  If you use an anti-chafing stick make sure you have it set out with your clothes so you don’t forget to use it.  Oh and don’t wear the race shirt if they hand them out early at the expo…you haven’t earned it yet!  I plan on wearing these sneakers, high rise lululemon speed shorts (they only come out once a year so snag some if you can next time they’re available…I’m just linking here so you can see what they look like), either this tank or this tank (my two favorites and I own 4 of each!), this sports bra that has pockets for the fuel I’ll need along the way, running socks from lululemon, a running hat (Adidas and Nike hats are my favorite, though I have an awesome off-brand one from TJ Maxx), and my favorite Ray-Ban sunglasses.  

10.  Bring toilet paper.  Inevitably, porta-potties will run out of toilet paper, so make sure to bring your own for your final pre-run bathroom break.  

11.  Think about the sun.  Most likely you’ll start your race in the dark but it’ll be sunny by the time you finish.  I always run with a hat on with sunglasses perched on top of my head so that I can pull them down once the sun rises.  I also always wear sunscreen, even when I start running when it’s dark outside because I know the sun will be up soon enough!

12.  Put your race number on your shirt the night before.  Make sure you use 4 safety pins (one in each corner) to prevent it from flipping up when you run, and make sure it’s on the FRONT of your shirt.  Sometimes I see newby runners with their bibs on their backs, which is such a no no!  It makes you look like a race bandit (someone who is running without paying) and it also prevents you from being able to find your race photos online once the race is over!  (You normally search by race number but if the photography company doesn’t know your number they won’t be able to tag you!)

13.  Find the GPS satellite early.  Sometimes it can take a while for your watch to find the satellite, especially when thousands of others are trying to do the same thing.  Cloud cover can also affect it too, so be sure to find that satellite early and then keep an eye on your watch and don’t let it turn off automatically.

14.  Discuss a link-up plan.  If you’re meeting up with friends or family be sure to discuss where you plan on linking up.  The crowds can be pretty crazy so it can be difficult to find each other sometimes, especially if you don’t run with a phone.

15.  Plan post-race transportation.  Many races start and end in different places.  Make sure you have a plan for getting back to your car, hotel room or home.  Most races provide buses but sometimes you have to wait a long time to get on one.  If you’re riding something like a subway or a bus, make sure you run with a token or a metro card that is already loaded so you don’t have to deal with buying one on your way into the station.  

Here is a blog post I wrote on a similar topic four years ago, if you’re looking for a few more ideas for race running in general.  Happy running!

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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