Race Day Preparation

Training is all but over, you’re into your taper and you’re ready to race. There are a number of things that you have likely forgotten about leading up to your race. Let’s explore what is needed to ensure your race day preparation is locked, loaded, and ready to go!

Race Day Attire

You’re inside the 10 day forecast so you have an idea of what the weather will be like, although it is completely possible that it will change. During your long runs you should’ve been auditioning different race attire. At times is can be difficult if you’re training in 90 degree heat and then race day says 45 and raining, but you have to do your best. That could mean your taper runs turn into early morning runs to emulate race morning.

However you do it you should have a couple of options depending on how the weather actually plays out. Shorts are a must for me personally along with compression socks. I also wear a form fitting Under Armour short sleeve, mainly because I’ve found this reduces nipple chafing for me personally. Lastly I’ll bring a long sleeve, short sleeve and running gloves.

I’ll have my racing gear picked out the night before unless something crazy happens it won’t change.

The less you have to think on race morning the more prepared you’ll be to focus on your run.


Chicago Marathon Race Day Preparation


Race Morning Itinerary

I always put together a race morning plan. Usually I start with the time I need to get to the race and work backwards to determine my wake up time. I would suggest that you do the same in order to be the most efficient you can at the early hour.

For Chicago it will look like this:

Race: 7:30a

Start Corral Closes: 7:20a

Arrive at Start Corral: 7:05a

Bathroom: 6:50-7:00a (including line wait time)

Arrival: 6:45a

Leave Apartment/Stop Water Intake: 6:20a

Buffer Zone: 6-6:20a

Review Race Plan: 5:45-6a

Shower/Breakfast: 5:15-5:45a

Wake Up: 5a


Race Plan

In Chicago there are 20 aid stations, which is great, but also forces me to make some decisions as to where I’m going to stop.

I personally want to take in more water early in the race so I’m going to stop at the majority of those. I know I’ll want to grab some late in the race when my hydration is starting to wane, but I also don’t want to stop every 3/4 of a mile down the stretch. For example Station 15 is at mile 20.2 and Station 16 is at mile 20.9. I’m likely going to try and grab water at 10-13 stations, this just feels about right for my goals.

For pacing I’m going to go for roughly even to negative splits, in the 7:05 range to start and the 7:01 range on the home half. The first half has more turns than the second half so taking that into account I’m expecting to run just a bit slower than goal pace.

If I can get to 20 miles still feeling good then I’ll make a bid to close the last 40 minutes or so at a faster pace, if I get to 20 miles and I’m not feeling good, it’s either gut check time or I’ll have bonked, but will still try to close out and PR. Those are the facts.

In Newport I knew at mile 6 it was going to be a rough final 20 miles. At Big Sur I knew at mile 20 that I could maintain my pace to the close. I’ll know around the halfway point if 3:05 is truly in the cards or not.

The race plan is of course taking into account perfect conditions. If, on race morning conditions aren’t perfect, I’ll have to adjust on the fly.

Not having a real plan is one of the biggest reasons people do not achieve their goals on race day.


Race Week NutritionRace Week Nutrition

This is a huge one and a big reason the “pre race carb load” is misguided if taken at face value. The day before the marathon is a great time to carb load, but you should also be doing it in the days that lead up to race day. Crushing a breakfast, lunch, and dinner that’s loaded with carbs only the day before won’t allow your body to fuel up as effectively as it should.

You need to look at the 4-5 days prior to the marathon as a time to increase your carbs significantly, while reducing your intake of proteins and fats. At the same time you don’t want to add an additional 5 lbs to your body in the days leading up to the race, so be smart about the amount of carbs you’re ingesting. I like to use a gradual increase in carbs in the 5 days before a race to get my body accustomed to the increased carbs so as not to “shock” it.

I will have a good sized lunch and an early dinner, both loaded with carbs, on the day before the race. I won’t be having a lot of high fiber foods either. Ingesting those the day before the race will likely cause an ugly day on the course and possibly adding unwanted pit stops for the bathroom.

My race morning breakfast will be my personal go to: oatmeal with peanut butter, chocolate chips, and vanilla protein.


Stick to the plan, be prepared, trust your training and Let’s see how it goes!

Best of luck to all of those running Chicago this weekend!

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