Beginner runners: Last-minute tips for your first marathon

By Luby Chow / 1 Oct 2021

“Are you getting ready to run the Manchester Marathon but feeling underprepared? What to expect at your first marathon? How to have a great start? Here are our last-minute tips to make your first marathon a success.”


First-time marathoners are likely to do too much training before race day. Assume that you have had progressive training over the past few months, your fitness should be ready before your marathon. On the day before your race, make it a rest day and take your time to relax. Your body needs time to recover from the training. Overtraining may get yourself injured or feeling exhausted. You should be in great condition and feel invigorated on race day. And you do not want to become fatigued quickly. So, less is more.

Read more: Why is it important to have a personal trainer?


Pack for your marathon the night before. Keep your things organised. Make a list of everything if possible. Prepare outfits for different weather conditions. In addition to the basics such as shoes and socks, water and towel, race number and timing chip, you should also bring dry clothes to change into, and bring cream to avoid chafing caused by constant rubbing. Your clothes should feel comfortable and not get in the way of your run. Pick lightweight, sweat-wicking and breathable fabrics and avoid cotton. Dress in layers.


Bad weather can change everything, especially when we are talking about marathons in the UK. Make sure to check the weather forecast beforehand. Prepare a lightweight jacket and take a trash bag if it is going to rain. It is important to stay warm and dry, but do not overdress. Stay connected for more race updates. Be prepared and not to let the rain ruin your race.

Read more: Make the most of your workout in the rain


Your body needs a huge amount of energy to run a marathon. Before your race day, have carbohydrate-based meals sensibly. Rice, bread and fruits are some of the great choices. Carbohydrate is the predominant fuel source you use during running. It will help you store fuel and avoid the onset of fatigue. It is risky to have a heavy meal before the race. On race day, make sure you plan your time to eat before running. Have a light breakfast that is rich in carbohydrate and easy to digest. Avoid consuming too much fat or fibre.

Read more: How to optimise nutrition for sports performance?


Sleeping is crucial to prepare yourself physically and mentally for the race. Get enough sleep, but not too much. Do not change your sleeping pattern. Do not overthink it or get too excited about the race. Get some good rest. Remember moderation is the key.


Your mindset and confidence make a huge difference in how you perform on race day. Consider studying the marathon course thoroughly and visualising it in your head. Accept the fact that the race itself is challenging, and be confident that you can make your way to cross the finish line. Wake up early on race day, leave yourself extra time to warm up. Running a marathon is tough and hard, but it is supposed to be fun!

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Running your first marathon is a big thing. We know it is hard to resist the temptation of trying something new on this special day, but just stick with the same comfortable training clothing, socks and shoes you are familiar with throughout your training. No new gadgets. No new energy gels. The last thing you want on race day is to get blisters from a pair of new shoes.


Be sure to drink enough water and stay hydrated days before your run. It is essential to avoid dehydration and prevent muscle soreness from developing too quickly. Avoid having caffeine or alcohol drinks because they make you lose more body fluid. During the race, drink little and often.

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The main reason to warm up is to make your muscles more flexible and reduce the chance of becoming injured. Start your warm up 10 to 20 minutes before the race with dynamic stretching and running slowly. Many runners also use the first mile or two as warm up to get the metabolic system ready for the long run.

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Marathon is a strategic race. It can be intimidating for first-time marathon runners to run on race day. Start at a slower pace than you think you need to. Focus on your own speed. Conserve your energy for the latter miles. Stay calm and patient. Listen to your body.

Marathon is "an experience of a lifetime”, and you have come this far training for your first marathon. Stay motivated and stop thinking too much about the outcome. Running your first marathon is an amazing accomplishment, and you should be proud of it. So, enjoy your journey!

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Luby Chow Head of Content Somerton S.C.

Published By

Luby Chow
/ Head of Content