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Preparing for Race Day

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Pittsburgh, PA 15203

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Cranberry Township, PA 16066

After months of training, you’ll need to start preparing your body for the big race.

Taper Your Training

Tapering your training will help repair your body and ensure that you’ll have enough energy on race day.

  • A couple of weeks before the marathon, begin tapering your mileage and incorporate more days of rest into your training schedule.
  • Avoid thinking that you need to get in one more run. Without rest, you increase your risk for injury and may be too fatigued to run your best or finish the race.
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before the race.

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Properly Hydrate

Increase your fluid intake, with both water and sports drinks, in the days leading up to the race.

When ​What
​The day before the race
  • ​Drink freely
  • Drink 16 ounces of water before bed
Race day​
  • ​Drink 16 more ounces of water when you wake up
  • Drink 8 to 10 ounces of water or sports drink about 10 minutes prior to racing
During the race
  • Your fluid intake depends upon how much you sweat and how fast you run
  • ​General guidelines recommend drinking between 18 and 36 ounces of fluid for every hour of running (18 ounces/hour for 10+ minute mile runners; 36 ounces/hour for 8-minute mile or faster runners)
  • Sports drinks may be preferable over water. In general, drink what you trained with.


Everybody’s fluid requirements vary, so be sure not to over-hydrate, especially if you are a slower runner or don't sweat much. Drink as you're thirsty throughout the race.

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Boost Your Carb Intake

Loading up on carbohydrates may help to optimize performance and prevent fatigue during the race.

​When ​What
​Three days before the race
  • ​Eat smaller, more frequent meals (about every three hours) and begin increasing your carb intake
  • A good rule of thumb: eat five grams of carbs per each pound of your body weight
The night before the race
  • ​Eat a high-carb meal with small portions of protein and vegetables, keeping fat to a minimum
  • Treat yourself to some frozen yogurt, sherbet, or light ice cream
Race day
  • ​Don't skip breakfast
  • Eat mostly carbohydrates (about 200 to 400 grams); keep your protein, fat, and fiber consumption low
  • Good picks: bananas, bagels, oatmeal, or energy bars

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Don’t Try Anything New on Race Day

This is not the time to experiment with things you haven’t already tried on several training runs.

  • Don’t wear new shoes, but your existing shoes should have no more than 500 miles on them.
  • Stick to the same clothing that you have been wearing during your training. Anything new may cause discomfort and prohibit you from running your best.
  • To avoid discomfort or upset stomach, don’t eat or drink anything new close to or on race day.

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Be Mindful of the Weather

Spring weather is often unpredictable, so prepare for various scenarios.

​If... ​Then...
It's very cold in the morning​, ​Wear top layer clothes that you won't mind discarding along the course as the day warms up
The weather is warm,​ ​Wear clothing that is light-colored, loose fitting, and lightweight
It's raining​ ​Wear a trash bag or disposable poncho at the start line and throw it away when the race begins


  • Be careful not to overdress. At the starting line, you should actually feel a little chilled because your body will warm up a few miles into the race.
  • Be flexible with your performance goals. Running a certain time when the weather is 50 degrees and overcast may not be achievable if it's 80 degrees and sunny.

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Things to Do on Race Day

  • Before you get dressed in the morning, apply sunscreen to prevent sunburn and Vaseline® or BodyGlide® to prevent chafing in key locations like armpits, nipples, and inner thighs.
  • Keep your warm-up short to loosen up your muscles yet conserve your body’s energy.
  • Address problems early in the race. Letting them persist could result in an injury. Don’t ignore issues like:
    • A poorly tied shoe
    • An area of skin that's beginning to chafe
    • A pebble that has made its way into your shoe
  • Relax. It's normal to feel nervous the morning of the race.
  • Have faith in all of your hard work and preparation
  • Feel confident that you can achieve your goals
  • Enjoy the marathon experience

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