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Published: 20 April 2017

Make sure you’re all set for race day

So after all the miles, planning and goal setting, race day is almost here for those running the Stratford Half/ Marathon. No doubt, most of you are feeling a bundle of nerves mixed with excitement and just want to get on with the running!

For those of you waiting to get on that start line (and perhaps regretting the decision to do the race at present!), just remember that you are about to take part in something very special which you - and your family and friends - will be proud of for a long time.

Many of you will no doubt already have your own routines for race day and should definitely stick with what works best for you. But I do hope some general pointers below may help to ensure you are super prepared on the big day…

Taper time

  • Your training should have reduced to approximately 30% of your usual training load in the final week before the marathon to ensure that you are fresh and ready for race day.  This will need to be less for a Half Marathon but you should not do any hard work outs after the Wednesday before the race.
  • Schedule in a rest day or two the final three days so your legs can feel fresh on the day. Three days before I’d do a 30 minute easy run, then I’d have a complete REST day two days before. The day before the race, I like to do a light jog to stretch my legs (about 20 minutes) with a couple of very gentle strides. This loosens the legs and means I don’t feel too lethargic on race day.
  • Mental discipline is vital here! Ignore your mind when it begins to play tricks on you that you should be training harder and resist the urge to up the reduced pace!
  • Do not panic if you also feel more sluggish and lethargic: this is typical of tapering and is not a sign that your body is becoming unfit or unwell. Paranoia about injury and self- doubt is also common so stay mentally positive and try to distract yourself from thinking about racing all the time with a good book or a coffee with positive people!

Shoes and kit

  • Don’t race in brand new kit – you’re more likely to get blisters and chafing. Stick to clothes and trainers you know are comfortable because you have run or raced in them before.
  • Pack your bag well in advance of race day so that you are not panicking or likely to forget something closer to the time.
  • It can be chilly on marathon morning so do pack some warmer clothes for before the race and some dry clothes for after the race.
  • Pack Vaseline to help prevent blisters and chafing and toilet roll…the race toilets always run out!
  • If you want to avoid athletes’ foot, remember to pack some fresh trainers for after the race and some flip flops and plasters in the event of blisters.
  • If you think that you may be nervous, pack an I-pod so that you can relax and zone out a little before the race; be sure not to miss the start though!
  • Organise and lay your kit and energy drinks, gels etc out the night before the race so it’s all ready for the morning. Don’t forget pins to put your number on!


  • For a half marathon, you can eat relatively normally in the week before the race but you do need to eat a good mix of protein, carbs and veg. 
  • For a marathon, increase your carb intake on the Thurs, Friday and Saturday before the race. You do not need to overeat, just make sure that you have a decent higher carb meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner and snack on good carbs like bananas, energy bars etc.
  • Make sure that you have a good meal the night before the race (that you know agrees with you) which will mean that you are well fuelled for race day. eg Spaghetti Bolognaise.
  • Eat a breakfast that you have practised running on before, at least 3 hours before the start of the race. Some people may also need a light bite of something 90mins before the race eg a ripe banana.


  • It’s important that you keep hydrated in the lead up to the race. In the days before, it’s probably best to keep a water bottle with you which you sip from frequently.
  • Most athletes avoid alcohol altogether in the lead up to a race but I have seen some elite athletes enjoy a glass of beer the night before to relax! The key is moderation and keeping your head.


  • Try to get as much additional sleep in the lead up to the race as possible.
  • It’s likely that you will not sleep AT ALL the night before the race with nerves and adrenaline. This will not impact your performance if you ensure that you have had adequate sleep in the week before.
  • Aim to go to bed an hour earlier than normal in the week leading up to the race and stay off your feet in the day as much as possible. The two nights before the race try to go to bed as early as you can.

Race day


  • Ensure you have all your travel plans clear for race day and your kit organised and ready so that on race day you can stay as chilled out as possible.
  • Conserve as much energy as you physically can! Get to the start line with as much time as you can and have a sit or lie down until it is time to start.
  • If you do a warm up, a light five minute jog is all that you need before a marathon and about 10 mins before a Half.


  • Remember how hard you have worked to get to this point and don’t let last minute nerves get to you - they are just a sign that you care.
  • Stay in control, remind yourself of the hard training sessions that you have completed.
  • Focus on the reason why you are running this race and what it means to you, counter any negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
  • Plan a post-race treat!

A half marathon and marathon is a victory of both physical and mental strength allied with willpower and commitment. Whatever the outcome, you can be proud of taking part in such a huge, unique challenge. Enjoy your special day and loads of luck!

Keep up the good training and I look forward to seeing you on race day!

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