Following are some marathon day tips to a fun and successful finish.
Start slow: Remember, conserving energy is critical in distance running, especially when it comes to running a marathon. If there is lots of traffic at the starting line (very likely if there are thousands of runners), just be patient and do not try to speed up and slow down to pass or weave between other runners. Save that energy for later.
Maintain a steady pace: Enjoy the race day atmosphere and excitement, but remember to maintain your pace so you do not run out of steam too early.
Enjoy refreshments: Before the race, know how far apart aid-stations will be located and plan how often you will need to consume fluids or snacks. You should consume 6-8 oz. of water or sports drink every 15-20 minutes to stay hydrated.
Carry energy gel: Consuming energy gel is a great way to replenish carbs (glycogen) during the run. They are light-weight, small, and easy to consume. Get one down just before reaching an aid-station so you can wash it down with fluid.
Eat safe: Do not consume anything before or during the race that you have not consumed during training. Introducing a new type of food to your body may lead to an upset stomach and require unwanted stops at the portable restrooms during the marathon.
Dry clothes: Have a change of clothes waiting for you after the finish so you can stay warm.
Enjoy a post-race snack: Shortly after the finish, snack on a banana, bagel, energy bar or other item to replenish nutrients. Wash it down with water or sports drink.
Conserve energy: If you feel really strong during the run (you probably will), resist the urge to run faster than your pace early on. Conserve that energy to finish strong the last few miles. If you push too soon, you just might crash and be in for a grueling experience late in the race. Remember your goal.
Don’t forget to stretch: Be sure to stretch good after the finish. You will likely feel invincible after you cross the finish line, but treat your body to some good post-race stretching and it will reward you with less soreness in the next few days.
Plan ahead: Lay out your running gear the night before race day. You do not want to find yourself scrambling to find your chip timer or bib pins in the morning. Even worse, you don’t want to be at the starting line and realize you forgot your timer, energy gel, or anything else you may need.
Fan support: Hearing positive words from supporters will provide a lift for you throughout the race. Consider printing your name on your short and you will get an even greater lift when total strangers will cheer you on.
Support others: If you find yourself passing other runners late in the run, encourage them by simply saying “keep it up, you’re looking good” or “great job, you’re almost there” or anything positive and encouraging. It just might be the lift they need.