What to do the night before the marathon

October 05, 2015 | by Laurie Lasseter
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

You’ve done all of the training and the marathon is tomorrow! Very exciting — and probably a bit scary. Here are some tips to get you in shape the day and night before the big race:

Fueling and hydration

Hopefully you have been keeping track of your hydration and fueling the night before each of your long practice runs and determining what works the best. If you haven’t, here are some general guidelines:

  • Your night before meal should be balanced. Aim for 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat. You can eat slightly more than normal, but don’t go crazy. You should probably avoid fried food, red meat, dairy, nuts and other high-fiber foods for 1-2 days before the race to avoid gastric distress during the race.
  • Continue to hydrate well. Your daily intake should be approximately 0.5 ounce of water per pound of body weight every day (including the liquid in food).


Limit your activity. Unless you are an elite runner, you probably don’t want to run at all the day before.   You should also limit any other physical activity.

  • Don’t do any big house projects or lift any heavy items. If you need to do something, go for a short walk (0.5 mile to 1 mile) and leave it at that.
  • If you go to the Race Expo the day before, try to limit the amount of walking you do at the expo.
  • If you stretch regularly, some light stretching the day before will help you feel less stiff and sluggish.


  • Review the course map and weather forecast. Make sure you know the course, including the locations of the water stops. Determine if you will need any extra layers or rain protection either before or during the race.
  • Lay out your clothing and equipment. The morning of the race you will be nervous and forgetful. Lay out everything you will need the night before (if not earlier). This includes:
    • Your race outfit. This should be the outfit (top, bottom, socks, shoes, hat/headband/ponytail holder, sunglasses, watch, etc.) you ran your long runs in so that you don’t get any unexpected chafing, blisters or discomfort. Attach your timing chip to your shoe per the instructions and pin your race number on your shirt or shorts. If you pin it to your shorts, make sure you can get the shorts on and off with the race number on them!
    • Cash and ID.  Always bring these – you may need to find your own way home. Some of the larger races are very crowded at the finish and it may be difficult to find your friends and family after the race.
    • Other gear. Consider bringing throwaway layers (in case it’s cold before the race), a plastic garbage bag (in case it rains or to sit on before the race), toilet paper, bodyglide, sunscreen, pre-race hydration and fueling.
    • Set two alarm clocks.  Just in case! You can go to bed a bit early, but no more than an hour early. Don’t expect to get a great night’s sleep the night before. You will be sufficiently rested from the nights leading up to the race.

Last step: relax and get ready for greatness!

Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers.

Laurie Lasseter is a marathoner, ACE certified personal trainer and an RRCA certified running coach with Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers.

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