Top Five Things to Do the Night before a Marathon

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Fox Cities Marathon

Jill Murphy, DPT, LAT, CSCS

The countdown has begun (3 days and counting) to the Fox Cities Marathon to be held right here in all of our Fox Valley communities. Whether this will be your first half or full marathon coming up this September 24, or if it’s your 50th, embarking on a running race of this distance requires a bit of planning and forethought to ensure that all goes smoothly. As a runner who has experienced a few long distance races myself, here’s some quick points for you to run down before entering the starting chute.

5. Fill out the emergency contact info on the back of your bib number using legible ink or sharpie print, before you pin this onto your clothes. As an athletic trainer who has worked many distance races, no one plans to be attended to by emergency services, so do the medical staff and your family a favor by filling this area out completely, and with the cell phone info of your actual loved one who is there at the race, or someone else who will be easy to get in touch with and perhaps consent to any advanced care or transport you may need. Be sure to include your area code as well, as your loved one’s cell phone may not share the same area code as the race location.

4. Plan and lay out your clothes, pin on your bib number in the designated location, and don’t forget the all-important skin lube and pack of your pre-selected energy gel if you are carrying this into the race. Remember, the race may be giving out this energy goop, but it may not be the kind you are used to, it may be difficult during the race to get the kind (caffeine or no caffeine) and flavor you tolerate as you are running past the station, and it may not be given out at the exact time or distance into the race that you have practiced in your training runs. Also, don’t forget to grab a cup of Gatorade or water to help wash the Gu down.

3. Plan you morning of the run meal just as well as you plan your pasta feed the night before. You may wish to bring your own bottled water, Gatorade, coffee, and your own food or snacks, so it is something you are very accustomed to, and you know will digest easily and not interfere with your running.

Running a Marathon

2. Hydrate well, but not so well that you have to use the restroom while you are in the starting line chute. Also, be careful with caffeine if you have not trained with it extensively, as this may have the same effect of making you feel like you have to go, even if you don’t have a high amount of fluid volume. Also be careful of dehydrating yourself due to the diuretic effects of caffeine on a very hot and humid day.

1. Have a set meeting point for your family. Make sure it is still valid for this year if it’s the same one you did last year. Be sure to solidify WHO will meet you, WHERE they will meet you, what TIME you believe they should meet you in case they don’t catch you at the last couple of spots you had previously selected, and what they should do if you are not there (i.e., wait, check the medical tent, call or contact info for the race, or check you digital chip time on-line to determine where you are on the race course or if your running chip time is complete- remember this will get cut off immediately upon finishing the race).

Bonus Reminder: Logistics for each marathon event can change year to year. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to the starting line, do a little warm-up routine, and hit the porta-potty before lining up. This extra time will also allow you time to check your bag, apply sunscreen, and sit back and take in the excitement of thousands of other runners who also have butterflies in their stomach as they prepare for the starting gun. Use this moment to appreciate the hard work, early Saturday morning long runs, and friendships you’ve made along the way, or simply the confidence you’ve gained by proving to yourself that you can accomplish a goal, no matter how challenging, when you put your mind to it. Whether going for a PR, qualifying for the Boston, or simply trying to complete your first race, you’ve already accomplished 95% of the work before hitting the starting line, so take a deep breath, relax, and bring it home, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride!