Last-Minute Marathon FAQ

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Having a lot of questions before a marathon is normal. Regardless if this is your first or 15th, every race is different and it can be overwhelming how much goes into just one day. Thankfully, local coaches address frequently asked marathon questions to help you prepare for this year’s race. Good luck!

  1. Should I run the day before the marathon, or stay off my feet as much as possible?

While generally you should be staying off your feet as much as possible the day before a marathon, I suggest a short 15 to 20 minute “shakeout” run the day before your race. It helps to burn off some nervous energy and gives you a last chance check of how your legs are feeling.

Preferably it is best to be done early in the day, and after you visit the expo you can stay off your feet the rest of the day.

Tim Bradley, CARA

  1. It’s my first marathon and I don’t live in town. What are some travel tips for race weekend?

Before Travel

Be sure to pack your running gear in your carry-on bag, not your checked luggage in case your checked luggage is lost!  This should include running shoes, running outfit, and any supplements you plan to use during your race.  Although you most likely can find GU, Blocks, etc. at the Marathon Expo, don’t chance it if you have a specific brand/type.  If you have any medications you need during your stay be sure to bring these as well and put in your carry-on bag.

At Your Destination

Although tempting to see the sights, limit your activity before the marathon and save sight-seeing for after your marathon.  Rest your legs and body.

Make sure you know:

  • Timing of bag check, corral opening & closing, race start, cutoff and sweep timing rules.
  • How you are getting to the start line on race morning.
  • Where the planned meeting spot is to meet any family or friends supporting you after you cross the finish line.
  • The best way back to your hotel after you finish.

Take lots of pictures during the race weekend to memorialize your experience and accomplishments.

To eliminate the stress of travel and logistics, book a package with Marathon Tours & Travel so you can relax and enjoy the experience once you arrive at your destination!

Jeff Adams, Marathon Tours

  1. Should I warm up before the race?

I’d definitely recommend doing some sort of warmup before the marathon, making sure that you don’t try anything new on race day. If you’re a high mileage runner, that might include some light jogging and light strides. If you’re not as high mileage, it’s still good to get your body warmed up which could mean some walking or some light functional movements (a few lunges, leg swings, and walking drills). Whatever you do, just make sure it’s something that you know your body is used to and that it will empower you, not fatigue you. In the end, you should aim to start the race controlled and within yourself, so you can always use the first few miles to warmup into race mode too.

Dan Walters, DWRunning

  1. How do I avoid hitting the wall?

First and foremost, stick to your planned pace and don’t go out too fast. When marathon day rolls around, you are tapered and feeling great, and the excitement of the crowds of athletes and spectators often leads to runners starting out too quickly. Stick to your planned pace despite how energized you are feeling during the early miles of the race.

Once you are settled into your pace, keep it steady and avoid any surges; surges cause your lactic acid to build up more quickly and will make you tired faster and more sluggish than holding a steady pace. It’s also important that you enter into the race fully-fueled and remain fueled and hydrated throughout by taking in the correct number of calories on a regular basis.

MJ Gasik

  1. How long should my recovery be post-marathon?

The last thing you will want to do the day after a marathon is run, but it will be the best thing to help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness. The more your body stays still, the tighter your muscles will get.  I recommend to my runners that they do an easy 15 minute jog the next two days following their marathon.  Or even walk 15 minutes each day.  I also recommend a sports massage, just make sure to let your massage therapist know that you just ran a marathon.  Heck, wear that well-earned medal to your appointment to not just show them what your body and mind did but also inspire them.

As far as when to get officially back into running, I conservatively recommend easy mileage (3 to 5 miles) for two mid-week runs and a long run no longer than 8 miles for the next 3 weeks.

Everyone recovers differently, so some runners may be able to handle more mileage than others and some may be able to handle less.  The main think after crossing the finish line is to give your body and mind time to heal before you download/printout your next training plan.

Denise Sauriol, Author of Me, You & 26.2

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