Marathon Race Day Tips

Marathon Race Day Tips

Chicago Marathon

You have put the hard work into training and now it’s time for the big day – the Chicago Marathon! Marathon race day preparation can be tough to get right. Here are a few practical things to consider that will help you perform your best when running the Chicago Marathon.

  1. Rest your legs the day before. Take it easy on your legs and mind, and give your body a chance to relax before the big day.
  2. Eat and drink what you practiced during training. Have your usual breakfast and 16 oz. of fluids 2 hours prior to the race start. This will allow your body to process the meal before the race begins.
  3. Wear the proper gear. Be sure to check the weather forecast and dress appropriately. Race day isn’t for experiments, so wear your tried and trusted gear.
  4. Get there early. Arrive to the starting area at least 1.5 hours before the race begins. This lessens the stress if there is traffic or you get lost.
  5. Warm up before the race. Get to the race early enough to have time for a quick warm-up and do some dynamic stretches. This will help bring blood to the muscles that will help carry you around Chicago and across the finish line.
  6. Have a race strategy. It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of the start and burn yourself out for the finish. Control your pace and take it out slowly. The faster you go out than expected race pace, the slower you will be running at the end. Don’t let your excitement get the best of you on race day.
  7. Break the race into small chunks. It can be overwhelming to think about running 26.2 miles so it can be helpful to mentally divide up the course in sections: run to the next mile marker, the next water stop, the next neighborhood etc. This can make the distance less daunting and can help take the pressure off.
  8. Relax. Do a check-in every now and then during the race and ask yourself how are you doing and how do you feel. Make an effort to relax your hands, shoulders, and your breathing. This will help you stay relaxed and running easier.
  9. Stay positive. Remind yourself that you have trained hard and prepared for the race. When negative thoughts pop up shift your focus to something positive. Develop your own mantra such as “one foot in front of another”, “just keep moving”, or “I’m happy, healthy and light on my feet”. Mantras can really help you get through the tough parts of a race.
  10. Enjoy the experience and have fun! Enjoy yourself and smile as you cross the finish line! Relish in your accomplishment and congratulate yourself.

Good luck running the Chicago Marathon! I’ll be at the expo and on the course cheering you all through one of the best marathons in the world.

About Sara


  1. Fantastic advice that I need to print out and paste on my wall at home (and at work)! #10 is the best piece of advice in my opinion. It is such an unbelievable event and if you spend too much time stressing on Sunday, you might miss out on enjoying all of the positive energy from the crowds and fellow runners. You’ll probably race better too if you relax and smile!
    Pete B recently posted..Proof that I Hit the Marathon “Wall” Very Hard

  2. Great advice! As we near the starting line, it’s good to keep all this in mind!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted..Under pressure

  3. Great advice Sara. Thanks for sharing these tips. These will help me conquer my first marathon. What day/time will you be at the expo? I plan to be there on Saturday morning and I’d love to say hi to you 🙂

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  1. […] week? Comment below. If you are running a marathon, Coach Sara has written some great race day tips here on her blog. I met Sara earlier this year at a marathon nutrition seminar that was held at the […]

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