How to Run Your First Marathon


The day before the race, drink when you are thirsty. If you haven't had a drink of water or sports drink in a couple of hours, drink half a cup to a cup (four to eight ounces) each hour. Don't drink a lot of fluid the morning of the race. This can lead to bathroom breaks during the marathon. Many races have portable toilets around the course, but some don't. A common practice is to drink six to 10 ounces of fluid about two hours before the race. Usually this is out of the system before the start. Practice your drinking routine before and during long runs, and use the pattern that works best for you.

More: 4 Hydration Tips for Runners

The Night Before

Eating is optional after 6 p.m. If you are hungry, have a light snack you have tested before that has not caused problems. Less is better, but don't go to bed hungry. It's a good idea to have eight ounces of a good electrolyte beverage about two hours before you go to bed the night before your marathon.

More: 5 Tips for Marathon Pacing

Alcohol consumption is generally not recommended the day or night before a race. The effects of this depressant carry over to the next morning. Some runners have no trouble having one glass of wine or beer, while others are better off with none. If you decide to have a drink, I suggest that you make it one portion.

Pack your bag and lay out your clothes the night before so you don't have to think much on race morning.

  • Your watch, set up for your run-walk ratio
  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Shorts
  • Top
  • Race number pinned to the front of your top
  • A few extra safety pins
  • Water, pre-race and post-race beverages
  • Food for the drive in and the drive home
  • Bandages, Vaseline and any other first-aid items you may need
  • Cash for registration if you are doing race-day registration (check for exact amount, including late fee)
  • $25 to $40 for gas, food, parking, etc.
  • Race chip attached according to the race instructions
  • A few jokes or stories to provide laughs or entertainment before the start
  • A copy of the race-day checklist, below

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