Whether it’s your first, or your thirtieth marathon, when you’ve got a race up ahead and life to juggle along the way, it’s easy to forget even the most simple things. We all have slips of the mind, it’s part of being a human. So, here’s a list or two for marathon day, pre and post race, in an effort to prevent any unpacked mishaps. This lowdown also applies to weekends away, but even if you’re running locally, it has a number of things that I’ve found to be vital to ensuring that you enjoy, and don’t hate, 26.2 miles.


Pre race

  • Drink. This is mainly for the days preluding the race, and an hour or two before the start. Sup up when you can before and during the morning of the event, and keep nice and hydrated. Apologies for the wee chat too, but it should be a pale colour.

  • Carb up. Some people don’t carbo load, others do. Myself included. I’d recommend upping your carbohydrate (not calorie) intake to 60% 2-3 days before race day.
  • Sleep. Don’t underestimate the power of the snooze in the lead up to race day. An extra hour here and there will work wonders, and it should also feel guilt free.
  • Breakfast food. If you’re travelling for a race and will be staying over the night before, pack what you would eat before your usual long run, such as a sachet of porridge & a banana- don’t let hotel breakfasts derail you with portaloo pitstops.
  • Race number & safety pins. And a few spares.
  • Race outfit. Shorts, vest, sports bra (ladies), spare tee – for any weather changes.
  • Trainers. Ones you’ve trained in. 
  • Sports watch & pace band.
  • Plasters / compede.
  • Energy gels. Again, always the ones you’ve done your training with, and bring a couple extra just in case.
  • Socks. A pair that you’ve ran in and are used to. It sounds simple but bad socks can cause some painful blisters. Keep any jazzy new compression numbers at bay.
  • Old jumper / bin bag. Wear this before you start to keep warm.
  • Vaseline / body glide. Slather that stuff on.
  • Nipple covers / plasters. For the gents. Do not free the nipple on marathon day. Ever. I’ve seen too many bloody vests to know that this is not okay.

Post race


  • Comfy jumper & bottoms. Make sure these will keep you warm.
  • Spare sports bra. For the lasses.
  • Flipflops. Trust me here.
  • Protein shake / energy bar.  Race finishes do usually give out bananas or something quick and easy to eat, but it’s always nice to have something small you’d like to eat, to keep the hangry hunger at bay whilst you get to proper food after . Victory Mars Bar? Do it.
  • A sachet or two of salt. Sometimes race finishes don’t hand these out. You need to replenish all the salts that you’ve lost, and this is a quick way to get them back. From my own experience it prevents you from feeling as delirious afterwards.

A  few more pointers ahead of the items you need would be to organise a clear meeting point for friends or family afterwards that isn’t too far away from the finish. Try to get a place away from the crowds, and if you can get them to stick a sign in the air or hold something obvious up that you can spot in a sea of people, even better.

Ultimately, it’s a huge huge day, and your adrenaline levels will be sky high, but try not to get carried away. Resist the temptation to go out too fast. Chill. Those. Beans. Stick to the pace that you’ve agreed with yourself, and tick along with it. It might feel like miracles can happen in that first 10k, and perhaps they do for some, but try not to ruin your whole race for the excitement of everything going on. I’ve been there, done it, and had a horrendous experience or two. Try to relax, focus, and, mainly, enjoy it as much as you can. Months of training, hours in lycra, and god knows many times of saying no to nights out, dinners or do’s shouldn’t be an opportunity to see that out with a morning of hell. You’ve earned every right to enjoy the crowds and soak up the day, so run hard if that’s your game plan, but maybe try to see it as a celebration, not something you necessarily need to suffer through.

Header image – © Marathon-Photos

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