Race Day Ready: 5 Tips For Conquering A Marathon

I still can’t believe I RAN [++ walked some ; )] a MARATHON one week ago. It makes me so proud to say that I accomplished it, however, I would be a lying if I said I wasn’t bummed that training is over. Training for a marathon was an amazing experience [read more about it here] — accomplishing a goal [longest.run.ever.] every week was equivalent to a *runner’s high* ++ more.

I will absolutely complete another marathon [hopefully, Chicago next year — it’s the Chicago Marathon’s 40th anniversary!]. I’m excited to be more prepared for race day. You can have the best training in the world, but race day is a whole different beast to tackle — especially if it’s your first marathon! You’ll never fully know what to expect, until you race one! Today, I’m sharing with you 5 things I learned on race day ++ hopefully it give you guys some insight on what to do [++ not to do ; )]…

#1] Make sure your *nutrition plan* on race day is consistent to what you’ve been practicing during training.

Nutrition wise, if you treat every long run during training like it’s race day, you’ll be set up for success! I’m sure you’ve heard *CARBO LOAD* — but if you eat a huge pasta//bread dinner the night before race day, when you are used to salads//protein//quinoa, you are going to be bloated. You have 15+ weeks [depending on your training program!] to experiment with what foods feel best. Same with breakfast… it’s important to figure out the type//quantity//timing. Before me, the night before I’d go to WholeFoods [#TreatYourself] ++ make a big Greek salad with chicken, quinoa, sweet potato, etc. For long runs, I’d do my jelly belly//GU//gatorade//water routine [I talk about my routine in #4 here]. On marathon day, I did have a Quest Bar before the race… but that’s because I work up ~1.5 hours before the race started.

#2] Be prepared for black toes if you don’t go up one full shoe size.

I learned this the hard way. I only went up half a size, ++ while all of my training runs were fine… marathon day was not. : [ I ended up with four black toes ++ a HUGE blood blister [anyone who follows CHAARG on snap // @chaargsnaps // you know what I’m talking about : )]. Your feet swell up like crazy when you run that many miles. Please don’t make the mistake I did — GO UP A FULL SHOE SIZE! Sarah went up one full shoe size ++ didn’t have any problems with her toes!

#3] Get a watch [instead of using Nike+ on your phone] ++ keep an eye on your pace… especially in the beginning.

…because if you don’t, you are going to F L Y + B U R N. You will have SO.MUCH.ADRENALINE at the beginning of the race — so many people cheering, your music is blasting, + you are FREAKING RUNNING A MARATHON… you are PUMPED UP. Pump the breaks, girlfriend. As much as you aren’t going to want to, you need to go slower than your *marathon goal pace* for the first 3-5 miles. Here’s a marathon pace chart that’s helpful. I read it the night before, but didn’t follow it because my ego was getting in the way [I feel great! I can hold this pace forever! #lies].

Also — highly recommend getting a watch! The Nike+ App will not be correct when tracking miles… mine was off by .5–1 mile. It’s likely you will run *over* a marathon in reality depending on if you run on the left//middle//right//switch sides… go you ; ). BUT, it’s not fun when you are aiming for a certain goal ++ you think you are on pace… but realize your mileage is off! A watch is so much better because you can use that for pace ++ use the mileage marks on the course! If anyone has any sport watch recommendations, let me know!

#4] Utilize the aid//electrolyte stations, but bring your own GU!

I loved that they had gatorade//water stations at every mile — it was so helpful, ++ was nice not having to run with a waterbottle. I drank gatorade at every stop, unless I was eating a GU — then I had gatorade ++ water. I didn’t notice much GU on my course, so I recommend bringing your own ++ putting it in your shorts pocket, or wear a SPIbelt [Sarah + I bought one at the marathon expo, ++ loved it!]. Also, if you need to go to the bathroom… go!  I made the mistake of *holding it* for 15 MILES before going. Once I finally went, I felt so much better [duh]. Suck it up [who doesn’t hate a Porta Potty] ++ #JustDoIt.

#5] The last 6 miles are tough… but you are tougher.

The first half of the race will be a breeze — but you are going to get to a point, mine was at Mile 18, when you are going to say SHIT [apologize for the swear] ++ you are going to start thinking “what if I just stopped? I can’t do this anymore.” DON’T LET YOUR MIND PLAY GAMES WITH YOU. This is the time when you need to dig deep, focus, ++ remember that you are strong. Nothing worth having comes easy — find a mantra ++ repeat it to yourself until you quite your mind from negative thoughts. Something else that was helpful for me, Mile 18–26, I started walking through the aid stations… it’s probably ~.1 miles ++ that helped my legs a bit + when I started running again, I *surged* to get my legs up to speed.

Funny enough, as much as you will hurt during your race… you’ll hurt SO MUCH MORE immediately after. ++ for a couple days following. I made the mistake of “stretching on the grass” immediately after I finished… when I tried to get up, my knees literally locked up ++ I started getting shin splits. It was SO PAINFUL. My advice — don’t stop walking! : )

After the race, #TREATYOURSELF ++ start recovering! Take at least 3 days off of anything… + a week [or more] off of running. I started doing hot yoga after 3 days, + I won’t do anything with high intensity for a week or so. Lastly, be prepared to not walk normal for a couple days, aha. People will look at you, smile, ++ say “congratulations” because they can tell that you just OWNED a marathon.

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