Race day dos and don’ts

Here’s our guide what to do (and what not to do) on marathon day to ensure your race goes smoothly.

By Rhalou Allerhand

Race day tips

The will to prepare

On the morning of your race, you don’t want to waste a single moment worrying about what to wear or how to get there. Plan your race day strategy to a T in advance and you’ll be considerably more relaxed in the run up to race day. Write a definitive list of what you need several days in advance and lay out your kit the night before so you can get dressed without thinking. All you want to worry about on the day is your feet versus the open road.

Lube up

On the morning of race day, before you put a single stitch of clothing on, apply Vaseline liberally to the areas of your body most likely to chafe. Don’t forget toes, ankles, armpits, beneath bra straps and around nipples. This advance lubrication could be the saving grace between a smooth ride and raw torture.

Check the weather

Unexpected weather conditions could be the difference between a PB and third degree burns, so plan your all-weather gear well in advance. If there’s even a hint of balmy weather, invest in some long-lasting sun cream and a good hat. Also bring a warm jumper for the bag check. Even if the weather is glorious, you never know how cold you’re going to feel post 26.2 miles.

Stick to the plan

Don’t do anything unusual or out of the ordinary in the days (or hours) leading up to race day. This includes sudden nutritional experiments, kit changes and even personal grooming. If you vigorously trim your toenails the night before race day they’re going to sting like mad by mile six, but if you leave them too long they’ll start to smart by mile 20. Make sure you’re groomed and ready to run several days before your big race, so nothing untoward happens. Eating unusual foods (including energy supplements), wearing uncomfortable clothes or even not getting enough sleep could all dramatically affect your race day strategy.

Walk this way

Contrary to popular belief, if you have to walk a little bit on race day, the running Gods will not strike you down with great vengeance and you won’t get done for breaking a running law. 26.2 miles is a really long way, so do the distance justice and accept that you may need to slow it down every now and then.

Have fun

After spending months and months training and putting your body under enormous pressure, don’t forget to have fun. What’s the point in dedicating all those valuable weekends to this race, if you then spend four hours (or in my case usually five) feeling miserable? Ask yourself what’s more important, running a good time or having a good time. Unless you’re an elite runner (in which case why are you reading this, get back to your work) you’re unlikely to run sub-3. Your mates at work will be impressed even if you crawl round, because it’s still 26.2 times further than they’ve ever run, so switch off the Garmin and enjoy the ride.


There are a thousand cameras pointing at you and in a few weeks’ time your inbox will be full of pictures of your sweaty, gurning mug. To avoid looking like a zombie drone, do your race album justice and smile at the cameras. Smiling also releases endorphins and serotonin, so you’ll enjoy the race even more if you wear a grin. Good luck!

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