5 Marathon Don’ts To Avoid a Race Day Trainwreck

danger cliff
Make sure you stay on course!  img via kalavinka

Here at Salty Running we like a dose of levity from time to time.  And it’s been pretty serious around here lately, with all the talk about carb-loading, bonking, speedism and fear of failure.  So with the Twin Cities, St. George and Chicago marathons (Go Mint!) being just a few of those scheduled to kick off fall marathon season this weekend, we thought we’d go ahead and poke some fun at ourselves.

So with so many Marathon “Do’s” on our list, here are some tongue-in-cheek tips to make sure your next marathon is a total trainwreck.

1. Go minimalist.

Nike+ chip on Vibram FiveFingers Bikila
Nothing says “road marathon” like a brand new pair of 5 Fingers. img via soopahgrover/flickr

Haven’t you heard?  It’s all the rage, and it’s soooo much better for your body.  By wearing less shoe, you allow your natural biomechanics to take over, and you become a faster, stronger, more natural runner.  Plus, how totally awesome will those “frog feet” look in your official race day photos?  And, for that matter, make sure you try this wearing the brand new shoes you just bought at the Expo;  after all, your own biomechanics will correct any problems you might encounter from new shoes.  Frog feet – yes!

2. Try new foods!

English: Mr. Kimchi san!
Mmm, check out my fiber-licious pre-race feast! img via Wikipedia

Or at least really spicy ones.  We’re a group of spicy girls here, so why wouldn’t we spice it up a night or two before the race?  After all, you’re often traveling to new cities with fantastic restaurants, and there’s so much to try.  Indian!  Korean!  Ethiopian!  And don’t let a little curry, kimchi or extra red pepper scare you off; all those spices and new vegetables are sure to just “move things along” a bit more quickly.  What’s life – and your race day gut – without a little adventure?  You can have bland white rice and organic whole wheat pasta anytime; you’ve worked hard to get here, so go ahead and splurge!

3. Speaking of splurging … bottoms up!

Mai Tai, in Waikiki, HI
Extra fiber in the garnish!  Bonus! img via wikipedia

What better way to relax – and take the edge off that severe water-guzzling habit you’ve suddenly developed – than to enjoy a cocktail or four?  A glass of wine with dinner is nice, but why make yourself wait until AFTER the race to really get a taste of that fun cocktail menu?  You’ve worked hard! And travel is stressful and those taper jitters are overwhelming, and you really are almost overhydrated by now.  So kick off your shoes, kick back with your girlfriends and a Mai Tai and worry about tomorrow … tomorrow.

4. Start a fight with your spouse or kids.

Rome visit, June 2008 - 57
Great way to spend the day before your next race. img via Ed Yourdon/flickr

I’ve done this myself a couple of times and I have to say, there’s no better method to get rid of those taper nerves and completely shift your focus than this.  That long, drawn out, stupid argument that you won’t remember the reason for next week will completely drain you of all energy, leaving you numb.  You’ll learn how truly committed you are to your race when you declare it RUINED – just RUINED! – only to resolve that you will NOT let your family’s selfishness take this race away from you.  You might be exhausted standing on the starting line, but hey, at least you’ll know how much it means to you.

5. Go out hard.

The Wreckoning
Hit that starting line like you’re a superhero running from an explosion! img via Wikipedia

Use it or lose it, right?  When you think about it, there’s actually some sense to this approach.  Why wouldn’t you run hard when you feel good?  You never know how long it will last, so best to capitalize on it now.  You’re bound to have a breakthrough one day, and if you don’t hit the pavement hard, you’ll be behind the eight ball from the start.  I know, I know.  Your frog feet hurt, your stomach is in knots, your head is pounding from those pineapple upside-down-cake martinis and you feel listless and drained after fighting all day, but you’ve worked hard for this – so why make it harder than it needs to be?

Be smart ladies (and gents).  Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.  Good luck in all your adventures this weekend – we’ll be cheering for you!

Trail and adventure enthusiast. Girl who swears like a sailor but not when she's teaching Sunday School. Survived infertility without a successful pregnancy. Self-employed, primarily working for Clif Bar and Company. Thirteen 100-mile race finishes with seven top 3 placements. An original Saltine.

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  1. Love this post, Clove! I always have glass of wine or split a beer the night before any big race. I did it first for a low key race and ran well so it kind of became a superstition. Best of luck to everyone running marathons this weekend!

  2. Can I add one here too…don’t ever take an Imodium because you had a tiny, tiny bit of a stomach issue, and then not drink enough on the course. Not being able to celebrate crossing the finish line of your marathon because you are on the way to the emergency room for severe dehydration and muscle cramping…not so much fun.

  3. I’ve got one: ignore the weather reports that call for really cold & extremely gusty winds and insist on wearing your shorts because they’ll look better in your race pictures.

  4. Great post. I just went through a dilemma regarding wearing some minimalist leaning shoes, since they are so incredibly fast, but went against it since I knew it would tear me up and I would be destroyed the last 6.2 miles.

  5. LOVE this…and the tip about hydrating with Imodium. I do need the reminder not to make mile 1 ( or more likely 2) my fastest 🙂