Preparing For Race Day-The Basics


-By Jaydev Raja

From my experience as a runner, I have put together the basics of what a runner has to take care of while running a marathon. Having completed 1 ultra marathon(100km), 10 full marathons(42.2km), 4 half marathons(21.1 and 25km) and 5 mini marathons(10km), I thought I would share some information that could be useful. I am currently preparing for the 160km run in October in Maharashtra and I am super excited.



  1. Avoid running atleast 3-4 days prior to race day. Rest is a great remedy to perform well on the final day.
  2. Do not do any lower limb strength training or running the day prior to the marathon. Just light stretches and a gentle massage will do wonders. We don’t need to be tired already before the run.
  3. Rest and sleep early as you will need to wake up in the wee hours of the morning. A total of eight hours of sleep is required before a marathon. Some relaxing rituals like a warm shower, followed by some gentle stretches or some deep breathing exercises are wonderful before retiring early to bed. This will give you a sound undisturbed sleep.
  4. Waking up early will give you the time to recheck if your running gear is ready and take care of last minute issues.



  1. We should always wear gear and clothing, throughout the run, which are pre tried and tested. Clothes should always be previously worn. Never wear new clothes to a race.
  2. We must get our clothes and gear all ready before we retire to bed. Fix the Bib(Which has a number and timing chip) to your shirt the previous night .That’s the one thing you need at the starting line. Please don’t show up without it.
  3. Don’t use cotton innerwear or outer wear.
  4. It is very important to apply vaseline(or wear a band)to chaf prone areas. Chafing is a common problem for runners.
  5. Female runners who are menstruating during the run, tampons are a better option. Cotton underwear and a sanitary pad could bruise you and cause blisters.
  6. Male runners should apply Vaseline on their nipples, under arms and inner thighs. This is the place where skin and clothing has the most friction and can cause chaffing and bleeding due to sweating.



  1. Avoid drinking alcohol the night before the run. Surely we can do without a hangover while running. Alcohol is a major reason for dehydration and cramps.
  2. An early dinner is a must and your food should be rich in carbs, low in fat and easily digestable. Also don’t try new kind of food especially if you are going for an outstation marathon and eating outside food. The food should be something that you usually eat during a practice run. Please don’t experiment.
  3. Wake up early, religiously three hours prior to the marathon. Having a lot of water, about 2-3 litres at these early hours will ensure a clear and empty stomach and use of toilet before the race. A full clean lower abdomen, ensures a lighter and comfortable run. Have a small breakfast. The breakfast should be carb rich, but a gut-soothing one, like bananas or a smoothie. You can have some pawwa or porridge. Avoid fibre rich food. Do not overeat or drink. Have coffee or tea, if you are used to it. Eat food which you usually have and which is easily digestible.
  4. Last drink of water should be 45 minutes before the event and do not drink too much of it before you start(Plenty of water will be available at the aid stations).
  5. Never run a marathon on an empty stomach.



  1. Reach the venue in time.
  2. Get on track atleast one hour before the start, so that you will have enough time to comfortably reach close to the starting line, use the portable toilets and warm up sufficiently before the run.
  3. If you are habituated to use salt tablets and carbo gels, this is the time to ensure, that you have the supplies ready.
  4. Run light without a camel pack/back pack, etc, as it will slow you down.
  5. A slow jog or a walk followed by gentle stretching is mandatory.
  6. Pre decide your pacers and the time of finish and stick next to your pacer at the start. If possible, chat and get to know your friendly pacer and announce your intentions of your finish with them. It is always wiser to select some strong runners as your buddies for the race. They will guide you throughout the race and ease your finish.



  1. During the race do not speed up early in miles and stick to your race strategy.
  2. Drink reasonable water and ORS(Energy Drinks) throughout the run, with what you have trained and are used to consuming. Have a piece of banana or watermelon, glucose biscuit, egg,if provided at the Aid stations.
  3. If you are using salt tablets or carbo gels, use them as you have pre thought, at the miles in which you plan to use. If you are not equipped with these, don’t panic. Well organized races have the white powdery substance that we call good old salt that your body needs during the long run.
  4. Besides using the toilets before your run, there are usually toilets, every 4-5 kms, or so on. Stop and use them if you need to, because trying to control your bladder will only play on your mind and stop you from enjoying your run. Using toilets when you come across one, is wise for a female runner, than taking chances to look for one.






  1. After Finishing, smartly walk a little more beyond the end point. Do your gentle stretching routine which is a must after a race to cool down. Of course collect your finisher’s medal and enjoy the feeling.
  2. Lying down with your feet up at 90 degrees against a wall or icing your feet and sore muscles (using ice after the run)will help you recover faster. There is a recovery station at the finish line incase you need assistance.
  3. A gentle massage also helps in fast recovery. Just like you warm up, before the run, it is important to help your muscles recover from the stress.



1.Eat food rich in proteins which will help in muscles recovering faster.

2.Avoid beer as it may not help in hydrating well.




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