A Guide to Your Pre-Race Ritual: What to Do (& Not to Do) the Day Before the Marathon

18 Sep, 2019

Preparing for a marathon requires months of hard work, dedication and a positive attitude. As the culmination of your hard work comes together, pre-race jitters and nerves are to be expected.

To assist you in your pre-race strategy and to help ease your mind, we’ve compiled a list of “Dos & Don’ts” for the day before your big race.


  • Carb-load Correctly

The day before the marathon, it is important to eat balanced meals that include carbohydrates, protein and some fats. In the days leading up to the race, about 70 to 80% of your calories should come from carbohydrates from foods such as oatmeal, bread, bagels, yogurts, tortillas, etc. You can even sprinkle salt on pre-race meals, or opt for salty snacks like pickles, to boost your sodium levels in preparation for the race.

  • Stay Hydrated

Hydration is key when running a marathon. You should hydrate both the day before and the day of the race. Make an effort to stay well hydrated at least 48 hours prior to the race by drinking around 8, 8-ounce glasses of water or sports drinks per day.

  • Enjoy a Slow 20-minute Walk or Run

While it is not recommended to spend too much time on your feet the day before the race, a slow, leisurely walk or run can help loosen your legs and calm nerves.

  • Organize Any Essential Materials You May Need

In order to minimize stress on the day of the marathon, prepare any materials you need the night before. This may include laying out your shoes and outfit with disposable layers, sunscreen, anti-chafing products, Fitbit, a watch and a GPS device.

  • Review Your Strategy

If available, review a map of the course the day before to familiarize yourself with the layout and solidify your plan.

  • Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Spend the day before the marathon relaxing and resting your body as much as possible. We know that it can be hard to sleep with pre-race jitters and excitement, but try your best to get a good night of sleep.



  • Don’t Eat Unfamiliar Foods

To avoid upsetting your stomach, do not experiment with any new, greasy, creamy or fatty foods the night before the marathon. It is important to stick to the same type of foods that you’ve had before training runs and that your body is used to. You should also avoid heavy sauces, high-fat foods and foods high in fiber and protein.

  • Avoid a Large Dinner

Instead of indulging in a large dinner the night before the race that may leave you feeling overly full, eat several smaller meals throughout the day that are high in carbohydrates.

  • Don’t Overdo It With Exercise

Try not to be on your feet all day or engage in prolonged exercise the night before the race. Instead, use the day before to relax, decompress and take care of your body.

  • Avoid Alcohol & Caffeine

Not only can alcohol lead to undesirable physical effects, but both alcohol and caffeine interfere with your sleep and energy levels.

  • Nothing New on Race Day

To avoid any unforeseen or unwanted consequences, stick to the rule “nothing new on race day”. This means that if you did not use or wear something while training, avoid using it on the day of the race. This includes clothing, shoes, fuel options, gadgets and more.

Each runner is different and what works for you may differ from the runner next to you. Making sure you are fully prepared before your race, both mentally and physically, can be a huge relief. We wish you the best of luck in your marathon endeavors!

Article submitted by DuPage Medical Group