Hydration can make or break your race. Use the following tips to ensure you're properly hydrated at the starting line.
- Find out what sports drink will be provided during the race. If you're able, train using the same sports drink provided by the marathon. If your system doesn't tolerate the featured race drink or you'd just prefer to use something different, be sure to plan out how you'll carry or have access to your preferred hydration source. Some options include, wearing a hydration belt or stakeout family members or friends along the course ready to hand you your preferred fluids.
- Never use the featured sports drink in a marathon if you did not use it in your training. The different brands of sports drinks contain varying amounts of carbs and electrolytes. Some contain other components such as protein. If you've not tried these products during training, you don't want to risk causing stomach issues on race day.
- Don't over-hydrate. Throughout the day before the race, drink water when you are thirsty, but don't overdo it. Drinking 4-8 oz of water each hour works well. Remember, you'll still be carb-loading on this day. Make sure some of your carb intake includes salty simple carbs like pretzels. Also eat a banana or two for the potassium. This will help ensure that you're not flushing out your precious electrolytes that you'll need during the race. Do not drink alcohol the day before the race. This can dehydrate you.
- Drink 16 oz. of water two hours before race time. This will provide enough time for the water to pass through your system and the excess be voided well before the start.
4. Enjoy the Expo...But Resist the Urge
Race expos are lots of run. They're usually full of vendors selling everything from shoes to gear to sport drinks. Feel free to take advantage of shoe and clothing bargains, but never, never, never wear anything purchased at an expo on race day. That's a disaster just waiting to happen. Also, avoid loading up on free samples of sports drink and energy foods, especially ones you've never before used.
5. Hit the Hay...But Not Too Early
Try to get eight hours of sleep, but (unless your race has a really early start) don't go to bed too early. It may cause you wake up too early; then you may have a hard time falling back asleep. Don't worry if you don't get a full eight hours. Actually don't worry if you only get two hours. Research shows that if you get eight to 10 hours of sleep on a regular basis, then not sleeping the night before the race most likely won't have any adverse effects on race day.
6. Dress for Success
Don't overdress for the race. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it's 15 degrees warmer than it really is. Your body will warm up at least by that much while running. To keep warm before the race, wear some old sweats to the start. The sweats will keep you warm while you wait and then you can toss them at the start. Goodwill is a great place to pick up cheap sweats that you won't mind discarding. Many races donate the discarded clothing to local homeless shelters.
To avoid a panicked race-day morning, lay out your shorts, singlet/shirt/top (go ahead and pin on the race bib), socks, running shoes, hydration belt, ID, and anything else you'll be wearing or carrying with you on the run.