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What to Expect During the Race - For Marathon Runners

During the race

You've put in the required training and now you're ready for the event. In addition to the psychological tools you've used during training, such as visualization and association and disassociation, there are a few other tips and tactics you can use during the race to achieve your fastest race time, or personal brand best.

Take it slow at the beginning

When the race starts, you'll feel a huge serve the adrenaline, and you may get caught up in the moment. This can translate as running too fast for the first quarter, or even half of the race. Avoid starting too fast at all costs. You may feel great at first, but if you're running much faster than you thought you could, it's likely that you'll burn out and be unable to maintain your speed. In the worst-case scenarios, you may not even have the energy to finish. Try to stay as close to your splits as possible.

Always take drinks when offered

During races of half marathons and longer distances, you will see drink stations en-route. Do not think stopping for an energy drink and a cup of water will slow you down. These pit stops will keep you hydrated and will give you much needed glucose for energy, both of which will help you in the long term. Always take advantage of them, even if you're not thirsty. If you wait until you're thirsty to take a drink, its already too late, you're dehydrated.

Race tactics

There are three big tricks you can use to shave seconds, even minutes, off your finish time. Drafting is running behind someone, three quarters off their shoulder and it can save up to 7% of your race energy by minimizing your air friction. Run the tangents is running the shortest distance between two points e.g. through curves in the course, which can shorten the distance you cover. It can therefore give you a faster finish time than your non-tangent running competitors. The third tactics is surging, which is a skill born through interval training. It involves periodically increasing your place beyond anaerobic threshold, so as to tire out your competitors. Many Olympic marathons are won by racers who are successful at surging.