1. Don’t try anything new on the day
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again - don’t be lured into trying something new on the day of the race. Eat the same breakfast you eat every day, run in the same socks you’ve always used, use the same gels that you rigorously tested out in your training, wear the same trainers you used for your long runs. Stick to what you know - especially your nutrition!
2. Check the weather
It could be boiling or freezing on the day, but if you are well prepared and dress accordingly this shouldn't be too much of an issue. If the sun is out, consider wearing a visored hat. Not only will it keep the UV rays off your head, it will also help wick away sweat from your eyes.
Essentially, your main aim should be to keep your core temperature down, as you don’t want to be getting heat stroke! Oh, and if indeed it is hot - you may need to adjust your pace by 5-10 seconds per mile in the first half before you up things in the second.
3. Avoid the runner's trots
There are very few runners who’ve not experienced something known as ‘runners trot’ - a polite way of describing the need to suddenly dash off for a ‘number 2’ before or during a big race. Whether it’s due to nerves or perhaps something you ate, there is nothing more stressful than queuing for the portaloos when you’re being called to the start line or having to come off the course half way through, with a sudden look of panic on your face.
If you fear that this could be you, then one quick solution would be to take an Imodium the day before and morning of the race. However, make sure you’ve tested it a few days earlier to ensure it doesn’t have a bad reaction.
4. Wear your name on your vest
There is no better boost to your morale than hearing people shout your name as you run past. Whether you scribble it on with a permanent marker or get it done professionally, it’s going to make your marathon experience (and that of the crowd) that tiny bit more satisfying.
5. Trim those toe nails
We all know that blisters are fairly unpleasant. But they are easily avoided if you go for the ‘prevention rather than cure’ approach.
Your first step should be to find an emery board and file off those long toenails - especially the sharp pointy bits. You’ll find this might help avoid losing a toenail altogether.
And if you are prone to blisters on your training runs, consider pre-taping your feet and toes in the places that are blister hotspots. You’ve got enough on your plate running a marathon without having to worry about blisters on your feet! But don’t forget to go for a practice run after taping up for the first time.
6. Lube up
If you’re prone to the odd bit of chafage, it might be worth grabbing some Vaseline or a similar product and applying it to the sensitive parts. However, make sure you remember which Vaseline pot you use for your nether regions.
On one occasion before a marathon, a rather pretty girl asked if she could borrow my Vaseline to put on her lips. Being kind, I politely told her ‘that she wouldn’t want to use it’. Having been initially surprised that I wasn’t willing to share my tub, she was later relieved (if a little shocked) when I told her what I’d been using it for.
7. Tape your nipples
As many a man will testify, nipple rub can be excruciatingly painful. However, a few carefully placed first aid plasters can prevent that shiny new charity vest causing any harm. You’ll look a bit strange in the eyes of your family and your kids may laugh at you, but you’ll be grateful afterwards. Although there are specially designed nipple plasters, your bog standard first aid plaster will normally do the trick.
8. Don’t drink too much before the race
You want to be properly hydrated first thing in the morning, but stop drinking about half an hour before the start. I’ve seen quite a few people (boys and girls) squatting to have a pee in the middle of the start pen - not pleasant for you or the runners standing nearby!
9. Keep warm
If you’ve ever wondered what to do with that old t-shirt that’s not good enough for the charity shop, then think of wearing it whilst you’re standing in your starting pen.
Once you’ve dropped off your race bag, you can end up standing around for as long as one hour, so you’ll be appreciative of the warmth. Just before the race begins, you can jettison the t-shirt.
If it’s raining, use a large bin bag and cut holes in the side and top for your arms and head. Or use a space blanket.
You’ve spent the best part of 6 months thinking about and training for this race. And now you are hopefully the fittest you’ve ever been. So, when people shout out your name to encourage you on, thank them with a big smile and a wave. It will make their day and yours! After all, you’re meant to be enjoying yourself!
Words: Tobias Mews