The tips provided in this post will not be the typical ones that you find everywhere else. These tips have been learned from personal experience and are a few things that I wish people had told me before my first marathon:
1. Pinch Your Water Cups – The best way to get water on the go is to pinch your cup right in the middle. Nobody told me this before my first half marathon and I ended up with water all over my face, and very little in my mouth. When you pinch the cup, it prevents the water from splashing out and provides a nice funnel to your mouth.
2. Bring a Roll of Toilet Paper – There will be races when the toilet paper runs out in the port-o-potties. Packing an extra roll makes sure you always have some TP. This also can come in handy if the port-o-potty line is too long, leaving the woods as the only option before the start.
3. Pack a Disposable Hoodie/Sweatpants – Many marathons will require you to drop off your race bags and head to the line an hour or so before the gun goes off. This means that you’re stuck with whatever you have on, or you have to discard your extra layers, never to be seen again. It’s much better to discard the used hoodie/sweatpants from the GoodWill than it is your prized race jacket.
4. Bring Extra Socks - Your feet will love you at the end of the race if you have clean, fresh socks to change into. They will feel extremely refreshing after you’ve logged 26.2 in your old ones.
5. Buy Cheap Gloves - Race days are always going to be unpredictable. The morning frost for the first 9 miles or so of an early morning, fall marathon can be quite nippy. $1.99 gloves can go a long way to fight this chill and can also serve as a place to store gels.
6. Use Body Glide - Over the course of 26.2 miles there will be plenty of friction to be had. USE Body Glide! Unless you enjoy red rashes and searing pain for several days, I highly suggest you use Body Glide at any point where you have skin on skin contact. Examples: Armpits, Inside Thighs, Chest, and Inner Calves.
7. Bring Extra Safety Pins - Extra safety pins are a godsend if you have lost yours to pin your bib on or if you need a way to store your gels. I pin gels to the inside of my running shorts as I tend to be a minimalist when I run.
8. No Sudden Speed Bursts - The marathon is a very long race and sudden speed bursts will only serve to sap your energy stores. I made this mistake during the Boston Marathon when running past the girls of Wellesley (5:12 mile). I paid for this mistake dearly. Every mile after mile 18 was torture. Only use speed bursts after mile 22, if you’re feeling good. The 1st mile of the race is also a place where many use speed bursts and you will pay dearly for this over the next 25.2 miles. Take ‘er easy and go out steady and smooth.
9. Stop Stressing Sleep the Night Before - Studies have shown that the night of sleep that matters most is 2 nights before the big race. If you are having issues sleeping the night before, don’t stress it. You are still getting rest by simply being horizontal and most of the energy for your race will be from the previous night’s sleep. I have yet to meet anyone who sleeps all that well the night before, so you’re not alone.
10. Sit on a Shoulder - If you are feeling tired during the race, try drafting off of someone who is running a similar pace to yours. This can be especially beneficial when it is windy and can help you to save up energy before making your next move. It’s also nice if you repay the favor:)
Well that’s it for our Top 10 Tips You Wish You Were Told BEFORE Your First Marathon! I hope that at least one of these helps you to a great race day!
Always in Stride,