Marathon Race-Day Checklist: Unexpected Items You Won’t Want to Forget

An expert coach weighs in on the important 'items' that marathoners commonly forget


You’ve spent the past 16 or so weeks running mile after mile prepping for your marathon, and you’re not about to let all of that hard work go to waste by forgetting something important before you head to the starting line. So, you made a list and you’ve checked it about a hundred times.

Sneakers? Check.

Race bib and safety pins? Check.

Long-run-tested race-day outfit? Check.

But before you put your obsessive list-checking to rest, Jason Fitzgerald, a 2:39 marathoner and the founder of Strength Running says you should ensure that you’ll be totally prepared by making sure that some of the more commonly forgotten “items” are also a part of your race-day agenda.

“I think the number one thing to remember on race day is proper pacing,” he said. “No marathon is won in the first 10 miles—but it can surely be lost! Running too fast, too early in a race as long as the marathon can be enormously detrimental to a runner's time goal and how they feel over the last four to eight miles. It's best to err on the side of caution and run the first one to three miles a little too slow.

In addition to remembering and sticking to a smart pacing plan, Fitzgerald said that hydration and fueling items (ideally things you’ve tested during training) are of great significance as well.

“Runners should also be careful to bring any hydration and fueling items they plan to consume on the race course,” he said. “Some studies have shown that more than 85 percent of runners don't carb-load enough before a marathon, so it's critical to remember your in-race fuel like gels, blocks or chews.”

He explained that the human body only stores about 20 miles worth of carbohydrates, so the rest of your energy while racing will have to come from what you consume on the race course.

And as for additional, non-required equipment, like earbuds and iPods, Fitzgerald actually suggests leaving those behind.

“Marathons are a special experience and to truly appreciate everything that 26.2 miles has to offer—including the crowd support and endless miles of cheering fans—running a marathon without music is the way to go.

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