Categorized | Marathons, Primary

9 (not 10) Considerations For Race Day

Posted on 05 April 2011

As you start to formulate your race plan for the upcoming marathon, keep in mind that things might not go “according to plan”.   Remain positive and repeat a personal mantra to yourself to get through the bad spots, for example “I will persist until I succeed”, “Quick foot turnover”, “Light on my feet”, etc.   As in most races, there will be a crucial point that will have impact positively or negatively on your performance.  For example, did you start out too hard (yes we all do it!), stomach distress, great hill climb/descent, did not even “feel the wall – marathon”.      Here are a few things to keep in mind on race day:

1. Running the Tangents – The Pittsburgh Marathon/Half Marathon have many turns along the course.   Focus on running the tangents (not running on sidewalks!) but if possible on the inside when taking a turn.   Yes it’s geometry 101.

2. Get through the aid stations – Plan well in advance of the aid stations – where you will jump into the mass of people to get water/electrolyte/gels.   Tip, there are always volunteers at the end of the aid station with less crowds (everyone stops and jogs at the beginning of the aid station with the crowds).

3. Rope Mental Technique – As I discuss in my new book, “Beyond The Iron”, focus on a person in front of you (200-300 meters) and envision in your mind that they have a rope around their waste and you just hang onto the rope.   Feel their energy pulling you closer to them – trust me it works!

4. Feet/Chafing – Prepare your feet with a good coating of Bag Balm or anti-chafing creams if your susceptible to blisters.   Also, apply to all other areas. This is common sense, but it seems every marathon has plenty of athletes bloody at the end.

5. Thank a Volunteer – Yes it might rain race day and be miserable and when you see volunteers helping out dealing with the conditions just give them a simple “Thank You”.

6. Focus on a negative split – If you hold yourself back during the early miles and focus on running the second half quicker than the first half you will do well.    Negative split eliminates the marathon shuffle at mile 22!

7. Plan a location to meet family after race – Yes common sense, but needs to be reiterated.  With all the people at the finish line, plan a place to meet your family/friends vs. looking lost like so many fatigued runners.

8. Don’t overdress – Yes, I might be raining/cold race morning and just take a garbage bag for the starting line.   Wearing all these clothes and having to take them off at mile 1 wastes so much time.

9.   The big one – Don’t wear those nifty “blister free” brand new socks you bought at the Expo.   What can you expect, blisters of course.   I did this stupid thing about 20 years ago and remember the lifetime blister-free guarantee on the socks, mile 12 blisters of course!

Race Day is quickly approaching!  By the way, come by the expo and say hello as I will be signing “Beyond The Iron” books.   Love to hear your comments, questions, send them over to me at



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