Your Race-Day Running Guide

Set out anything else you'll need in the morning, such as petroleum jelly or body lube, sunscreen, Band-Aids or nipple shields, contact-lens solution, sunglasses, and energy gels.

If you'll be carrying a gear-check bag to the start, prepack as much as you can. Include extra gloves, hat, and so on if there's even a tiny chance you might need them. Hang your bag from the doorknob so it will be impossible to miss on your way out.

Review your map or directions to the start, to be sure you know where you'll be going—and about how long it will take you to get there.

Arrange for two methods of waking up: The alarm on your running watch and/ or cell phone, and a wake-up call from the front desk or from a friend.

Excerpted from The Runner's Field Manual, by Mark Remy (Rodale, November 2010). To purchase a copy, go to


So, you're here because you like to watch?

The best way to get motivated to sign up for a race is to cheer on other runners.

DO Applaud vigorously.

DON'T Applaud in that weak, single clap... pause... single clap... pause... way. It sounds sarcastic!

DO Hold up signs written in BIG, bold, clear letters.

DON'T Hold up signs written on white poster board with blue ballpoint pen. In elegant cursive.

DO Use short, funny slogans on your sign, such as "Run Like Snot!"

DON'T Use slogans that are so long no runner could possibly read them as they pass, such as "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

DO Tell runners that they're looking great.

DON'T Tell runners that the winner finished an hour ago.

More: 4 Tips to Stay Motivated on Your Long Run

Spectate Like a Pro

1. Using only poster board, permanent marker, glue, and glitter, design a sign that can be read easily from a distance of at least 30 feet.

2. Create your own cheer, using the name of a close friend, loved one, or charitable cause.

3. Find a marathon that follows an out-and-back or loop course, then plot at least four points on the course map where you could reasonably expect to spot the same runner during the race.

4. List at least five motivational phrases that you can shout to the fast and not so that do not include the words good, great, or strong.

5. Demonstrate an ability to snap a clear photo of a runner moving at seven minute-per-mile pace or faster (or slower, if necessary).

6. Be able to stand in the same spot for up to two hours at a time.

More: Find Your Running Motivation

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