Marathon Blog

10 Last-Minute Marathon and Half Marathon Tips

10 Last-Minute Marathon and Half Marathon Tips

By Dr. Michael Hartmann and Laurie Lasseter

This is it, the final stretch. Months of your life, more effort than you imagined and quite possibly, millions of steps have led you to these last days of training. With not much more than the big day ahead, here are our last-minute tips for marathon/half marathon day survival.

  1. Plan everything. Plan transportation to the race and from the finish area. Let friends and family know where you’ll meet them after the race. Do everything you can in advance, right down to trimming your toenails and pinning on your bib the night before the race.

  1. Not too much race expo. The expo is fun and a great way to get excited for the race, but don’t spend too much time or energy walking there. Don’t try any samples of new foods or drinks either. Save them for after the race.

  1. Weather rules. The most important thing is to wear layers on race day. Layering is crucial, as you’ll be shedding clothing as your body heats up. Don’t forget gloves and a hat if it’s chilly. And be sure to wear items you’re okay with tossing in the garbage throughout the race, if necessary.

  1. The perfect gear bag. The following items are must-haves for a well-stocked race bag: throwaway clothing (sweatshirt, sweatpants, early race shirt, gloves, headband or hat), plastic garbage bags, throwaway blanket, almost-empty Body Glide or Vaseline, sunscreen, toilet paper, pre-race hydration, pre-race food, early race hydration (including a fuel belt, if needed for especially congested races.)

  1. Lubricate!Make sure to lubricate all potential chafing spots before the race with Body Glide or Vaseline. Anywhere there is friction, like armpits and nipples, is a potential trouble spot for chafing.

  1. Practice gratitude. Remember, the volunteers and spectators are the ones who make the race possible. Take time before, during and after the race to thank them. Not only does it make them feel great, it boosts your race satisfaction, too.

  1. Do what works. Do not try anything new on race day. Shoes should be broken in and apparel pre-worn (preferably during your long training runs). Eat food you know digests easily. The same old choices leave less room for surprises.

  1. Be mindful of mechanics. During the race, focus on good form to get you through rough patches. Focus on staying relaxed, especially in the upper body. If your legs need a break, focus more on your arm swing and vice versa.

  1. Remember your mantra. Choose a saying that you’ll repeat during the race, especially when fatigue and discomfort visit. Whatever you choose, find one that motivates you. If you aren’t a “mantra person,” just try to stay focused and positive during rough patches and remember that your training has properly prepared you for success.

  1. Roll with the punches. Weather or unanticipated terrain difficulty can thwart your plans. Visualize yourself overcoming challenges and be ready to adjust expectations if needed. You’ve come this far and you will succeed! Good luck!


Dr. Michael Hartmann

Race Medical Director, Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon & Half Marathon

Emergency Room physician, Edward Hospital


Laurie Lasseter


ACE Certified Personal Trainer

RRCA Certified Running Coach

Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers