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Top Five Final Marathon Race Tips

27 April

There comes a time when you are so close to your race that there’s seemingly nothing else to do. You can’t train anymore and your taper is done. The race outfit is picked and your are glued to the local weather forecast. With less than 24 hours to go, you might feel like it’s time to hand the race over to Fate…but you shouldn’t!

As you while away the last few nervous hours before your race, here are a few more things to consider that could make your race into a completely different (and hopefully better) experience.

#1 — Cut Your Toenails

There’s nothing worse than losing a nail…unless you consider the potential of running 26 plus miles with bloody, banged up toes. That’s right, your toenails need to get in race-shape as well. In this case, think trimmed neat and short, with no sharp bits.

#2 — Bandaids on Your Nipples

Since we are on the topic of injury and pain, why not cover what’s considered one of the worst running injuries known to man — the chafed nipple!  I was tempted to find a picture for this one, to drive the point home, but I think the title says it all. Warm day, cold day, normal day…it doesn’t matter — you must protect yourself. The easiest and most effective solution I have found over time is a regular bandaid. Leave them out for race morning, and don’t forget to take them off when it’s all said and done!

#3 — Set Your Watch to Autolap

At some point in your marathon day, your brain will begin to struggle. Your ability to do math, or to remember to work the splits button on your watch, will fade. Your entire body will be dedicated to the mental and physical effort required to complete the race…and only when you are done will you begin to realize all the things you didn’t remember to do. Make life — and your post race analysis — that much easier by setting your watch to do the work for you.

#4 — Have Your Morning Plan Set In Stone

There are three things in your life you don’t want to be late for. Your wedding, the birth of your child, and the start of a big race. Plan out your early morning schedule down to the last detail, and factor in plenty of time so that you aren’t the crazy guy/gal who’s sprinting through the early morning streets to get to the start line on time. Things to consider include transportation/parking, your food/fluid needs, early morning clothes that you can discard, your technology/shoes set out and ready to go, etc.

#5 — Be Ready for the Finish

While the marathon hurts, the full impact is lessened by the fact that there is support on the course and you are sharing the “experience” with so many others. Once you cross the finish line, however, you are entirely on your own. Your core body temp will start to drop and you really only have a few minutes to get changed and refueled before your body starts to put up a pretty good fight. Plan ahead to have dry clothes (even a winter hat!) and a good snack in your bag for when your marathon journey is done. You’ll even want to have a clear meeting point to rally with your friends and family; make sure it’s relatively close to the finish as you won’t want to go much further!

Do you have any other tips or thoughts to make your marathon experience that much more enjoyable? Please share them in the comments below!

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One Response to “Top Five Final Marathon Race Tips”

  1. Bill Abbley May 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Hi Patrick,

    Read your Top Five Final Marathon Race Tips column. I’ve run 80-ish marathons and several 50-milers. I agree with everything you’ve said except the toe nail part. I find that it’s best to do the final toe nail cutting a week or two before the race. That way, if I’ve screwed up the toe nail cutting and I do have a sharp bit, I find it in training and not in the race.

    Thanks,

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