This post is part of a special series on “How a PT Trains for a Marathon.” Molly Gries PT, DPT, is a physical therapist and marathoner who is running the 2017 Boston Marathon today. Molly outlines her typical race day preparations.
Congratulations! All your hard work is paying off, now just to prep for one last run. However, race day usually starts early and goes long. Prepping for race day is especially important if you are traveling for your race. Here are a few tips that I find helpful for my race day prep.
Tips for Marathon Race Day Prep
- Visit the expo or packet pick-up. Make sure to check out the website about a week prior to the race. Some races require documentation for packet pickup or do not allow packet pickup on race day. At the expo, take time to chat with people, check out course information, and learn about race day logistics -- where are the water stops, are they providing gels or should you bring your own, gear check, etc.
- Pack for race day. Check the local weather conditions and decide what you are going to wear for the race. If you are traveling to a new city or climate, make sure to bring options. Weather can vary greatly in different regions of the country. For race day, pack a change of clothes and an extra pair of shoes to change into after the race. You can either leave this bag at gear check or hand off to one of your spectators. One of the best tips I received when I first started running marathons was to pack a change of shoes. After 26.2 miles, my favorite thing to do is to slip into my Chaco sandals.
- Take it easy and relax. Try not to overextend yourself the few days before the race, choosing activities that will help prepare your body for the race and gain energy stores. If you do run, try a short two-miler a day or two before the race.
- Take a last short and easy run. I find this especially helpful if I am traveling for the race to orient to a new environment.
- Plan your pre-race evening routine. Eat a good meal, head to bed early, and make sure you set a good reliable alarm (or multiples). Most races have very early start times.
- Assemble all of your items and make sure they are accessible and ready to go.
- Determine your plan for the morning – what you will eat for breakfast, how you will get to the start and if you will meet up with friends or family.
- Start strong. Eat breakfast in the morning but keep with your normal pre-run routine. Now is not the time to try something new for breakfast. Use what worked well for your weekend long runs as a guide. Tip: go to the grocery store in advance or bring items with you that you know digest well for you.
- Enjoy the moment. This is what you have worked so hard to achieve. Take a deep breath and have fun.
Even with the best race day prep, mishaps can happen – even to professional runners. Do your best to plan and prepare but then just roll with the changes. At the end of the day, you will accomplish your goal and have some stories for later.