You’ve made it! You put in the time and training for your first marathon and the day is finally here. But before the adrenaline-fueled start, take a moment to review these quick tips to ensure that the big event is a fun first instead of a stressful last.
1. Limit Mental Fatigue
The negative physical effects of mental fatigue are very real. You may not be able to keep the pre-race jitters or excitement at bay, but try to limit stress and even decision-making the day of. Fuel up the car, set out your outfit and needed items, charge your phone, and handle any other organizational (and/or self-care) details well before heading to bed for a full night’s rest.
2. Stay the Course
Simple, but easy to forget! You’d be surprised how easy it is to get off track during a marathon. Markers fall off, chalk washes away, and volunteer corner aides wander off in search of snacks (who can blame them). Make a point to have your route memorized, with ideally a game plan for each section type.
3. Feel Fit and Fab
Outfit planning! Time to revive your inner teenager and (healthily) obsess over race-day wear. If the weather in your area is unpredictable, have a few temperature-appropriate options planned to choose from on the day of. Your picks should NOT be brand-new clothing (or shoes), as the last thing you want to discover is a painfully misfitting area mid-marathon.
On the same vein as above — an ounce of prevention (or Bodyglide) goes a LONG way in staving off discomfort. Common chafe areas include thighs, straps, underarms, and any crease points. Even if you don’t normally chafe, consider investing in some kind of salve and test it well before the big day. The last thing you want mid-marathon is a friction burn with sweat in it!
5. Too Hard Too Fast
Races are very, very exciting. It is extremely tempting to begin with an explosive, camera-worthy start, and we get that! But after your Instagram-worthy gazelle-esque prancing, consider settling into a more standard trot to conserve energy and stay on pace with your goal time. Even if this means letting other runners pass you (remember, they’re feeling the adrenaline too), stick to your plan.
6. Don’t Try New Things
For everything a time and a place! This isn’t either for trying new things. On race day try not to vary too wildly in either liquid or solid intake patterns. If the track is providing hydration, try to find out what it is beforehand so that you can make sure your system tolerates it well.
7. Have a Postrace Plan
No matter how well trained you are you will be tired mind body and soul after your first marathon. Before race day, figure out where you will be meeting your entourage when you are done, and what your post-race needs might be. Pick an obvious spot that you will remember and locate with minimal (albeit victorious) brainpower.
Above all have fun! This cannot be stressed enough. You worked hard for this moment, so remember to take time to enjoy it. Don’t take your pace so seriously that you’re unable to wave to the crowd, give a high-five, or talk to the people running with you. Enjoy these moments and the excitement of your mutual achievement!