Your first marathon is right around the corner and we bet you can’t wait! The years of talking yourself into it, the months of training, all leading up to one day when everything comes together. We know you’ve got it covered, but just in case you needed a little help preparing for your first marathon race day we asked the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon Ambassadors to give us some of their best tips for race day and the days leading up to it.
These tips can also be used as a refresher for you more experienced marathoners. Don’t worry they work for any marathon, not just Charlotte.
Read the Runner’s Instructions
Almost every race will send you a runner’s instructions email, or have them available for you on their race website. Don’t ignore these! They can include anything from changes in expo hours, to tips on parking, to instructions on using pacers. If the race director wants/needs to communicate something to runners it will be in that email. Check your spam, and read it!
Experience the Expo
The expo is the first time runners feel the race day energy! Usually held the day before a race, the marathon expo is one of the best parts of running a race. Of course, you will be picking up your packet, but you can think of big race expos as a collection of pop up shops straight from your wildest running dreams. For example, you might be able to pick up some race merch, meet your pacers (How to Use a Pace Team, https://runcharlotte.com/keeping-pace/), learn about local run clubs, and so much more. You can also expect a local running store or two to be there with a few of the race day essentials, just in case you forgot something.
Make Your Flat Runners
The night before race day you’ll want to make your flat runner. What’s a flat runner? A flat runner is what you create when you lay out all of your race day kit in the shape of a runner. Everything from your sneakers to your headband should be laid out. Runners (especially first-time marathoners) should do this for two reasons. First, it will help you make sure that you haven’t forgotten anything that you’ll need to head to Walmart for before you go to sleep. Second, it will help make sure you take everything with you on race day and keep you from forgetting things in the excitement.
Race day is not the time to go off script. Don’t wear those new shorts you bought at the expo, don’t try out a new nutrition packet that your running buddies gave you, don’t even watch that new show that just came out on Netflix. There are more than enough variables that you can’t control on race day. Don’t add to the chaos by trying something new.
Show Up Early
There is nothing more stressful than having to run to the start line so that you can continue running for 26.2 miles. Even worse, realizing that the gun has already gone off and you are still a half mi away. Do yourself and your ride a favor and show up early.
Know Your Pace Plan
Based on your training and how you feel on race morning you should have a plan of attack for your race and try to hold to your plan. However, race day can be unpredictable and for better or for worse things might need to change in that plan. Be honest with yourself about your fitness level and listen to your body while you race. You may even have a great day and push your pace faster than you expected. Just make sure you run your plan.
Enjoy Your Moment
As you are closing in on the finish line, take a moment to breathe it all in. Your legs will be tired, your arms will be tired, your back teeth will be tired, but this is your first marathon finish line and you’ll want to remember this forever. Music off, stop looking at the watch, and get to the finish line. Enjoy the cheers as you finish your first marathon!
It might be tempting to hit the brakes the second you pass the finish line; after all, you did just run 26.2mi. However, if possible, you shouldn’t come to a complete stop right at the finish line. Keep up a little bit of a jog or even a walk until you can get your heart rate down to a manageable level.
Don’t Miss the After Party
Depending on the size of the race you’re running there may be an after-party for runners to celebrate their accomplishments. You should be there. You might not feel up to it right when you cross the finish line, but get cleaned up, do some stretching, and then get out there! Today is your day and you won’t regret reminiscing with your fellow runners.
Let’s Get This Done
You’re ready! With these tips from the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon Ambassadors we know you’re ready to run your first marathon. The most important thing for you to remember is that at the end of the day, even if things don’t go exactly as planned with your race, be sure to enjoy it!