EP009 23 First Time Marathon Tips: How To Ensure A Successful Marathon Day

23 First Time Marathon Tips Dublin City Marathon

23 First Time Marathon Tips To Help Ensure A Successful First Marathon

So there’s a week or thereabouts to go to your first Dublin City Marathon. And today on the podcast I’ve got 23 First Time Marathon Tips to help you put the final touches to your preparation.

Preparation for marathon day is the key to your success and now is the time to focus in on the finer details.Everything you’ve prepared for could is dependant on how you prepare in this final week. Check it out!

Reader Bonus: Download your free copy of the “23 First Time Marathon Tips Checklist” in PDF here.

Links From The Show

Show Notes

Last week on the show we spoke about how to taper for Dublin City Marathon. This week we’ll take a look at what to do the day and night before, the morning of, and during Dublin City Marathon itself.

It’s all about building habits and the more you practice this stuff the more automatic it will become. So use this coming week to go through your routine top to toe.

Here’s a few things I’d recommend.

#1 Don’t Make Any Major Changes

Second guessing your preparation will likely be detrimental to your performance so keep it positive and don’t make any major changes this week. – Stick to the plan.

Focus on the results you want to achieve and stay in a positive expectation of achieving that. Visualise the time you want on the clock and imaging celebrating as you get over the line.

#2 Get Extra Rest This Week

Don’t take on any major physical work this week. Get out and do a couple of 2 or 3 milers by all means but don’t do any more than that.

Mental demands like studying or heavy mind stuff in work chews up glycogen too so keep it simple this week. Get about 8 hours of good quality sleep per night is good. Catch a few zeds during the day too if you can.

#3 Organise Your Support Peeps

As I mentioned in last week’s show, organise your friends and supporters to be at a particular mile markers in the race to back you up with food, drinks and spare socks and top.

This could be especially important as you enter Clonskeagh and into Miltown. It’s is kind of like no man’s land and if you’re going to feel the pinch it’s likely to be here.

#4 Stay Away From Alcohol

This is a bit of a no-brainer, right? At least I hope it is.  I know some runners that think drinking a couple of pints or bottles the night before is no harm, and you know I just don’t get that.

Alcohol has no positive effect on performance, in fact it is known to negatively affect performance even in small amounts. Alcohol will not help you get where you want to go so leave it out until after you finish.

#5 Organise Your After Race Gear

Make sure you have a full change of clothes for afterwards. Socks, jocks, t-shirt, tracksuit bottoms, long sleeve top, fleece, jacket and hat.

You might think that’s a bit over the top but believe me you’ll need them. Change quickly after you get over the line because your body temperature will drop pretty quickly.

#6 Vaseline The Lining Of Your Shorts

Chafing can be brutal even when it’s dry because salty sweat can turn your shorts into sandpaper. Here’s a tip for you that I can’t claim as my own – Ciarán Phipps shared this with a group of runners I was with in NYC in 2010.

Take a blob of Vaseline and rub it into the lining of your shorts and it will prevent this happening, even if it does rain. If you wear Skins or bicycle type shorts then you shouldn’t have that problem.

#7 Consider Wearing A Skins Type Top

Many male runners suffer with bleeding nipples. It’s a very nasty thing on it’s own, but having to complete 26.2 miles with screaming nipples is even worse!

Plasters don’t really work, so I recommend wearing a lightweight tight fitting top such as Skins or Under Armour. However, if you don’t normally wear one then plasters on the nipples are probably your only solution.

#8 Plan Your Transport On Race Morning

Decide how you will get to the start line on Sunday morning. There will be no buses running at that time so you’ll need to get a taxi or get a lift from a friend.

I like to jump out on O’Connell Bridge and walk to Merrion Square. It’s only a short walk and will help you loosen out. Maybe consider a light trot to the bag drop area.

#9 Eat Your Regular Breakfast

You’ve likely been eating well for the last few months so whatever breakfast you’ve established, stick to it. If you have no set breakfast in mind try the following;

  • Bowl of porridge with jam or spoon of sugar
  • Wholemeal bread with a boiled egg
  • Cup of tea

You’ll need to time your breakfast about 2 hours before your scheduled start time, and considering that some of you are travelling you could be looking at more than the above.

Make sure you plan this.

#10 Wear An Old Hoodie To The Start

Depending on the time you leave your house, it could be a bit nippy out, so wear an old hoodie or top that you won’t miss. There’s tons of these discarded before the race and I believe they go to charity.

Some people wear a black plastic bag and if that works for you then game ball. Just make sure you don’t get cold because there will be a bit of standing around before the gun.

#11 Stay Hydrated

Another no-brainer here I guess, however, some of you are bound to miss the mark with hydration over the coming week. Rule of thumb aim for 2ltr to 2.5ltr minimum.

There are several hydration calculators online but you might want to be as precise as possible. The requirement for men and women will differ so best to check your exact hydration requirements.

#12 Don’t Gorge The Night Before

Gorging on carb dense foods the night before is likely to leave you bloated and feeling heavy the next day so avoid doing this. Simply eat normally over the coming week instead.

With mileage low your calorie requirement will have dropped quite a bit while your appetite should have remained steady. This means your body will have stored extra fuel for the big day.

#13 Consider Driving The Course This Week

Taking a spin around the course to familiarise yourself with it isn’t a bad idea during the week if you have time. It can take some of the guess work out of it on the day.

Best to do this with a friend rather than on your own so you can actually see and gauge the terrain. Bear in mind however, courses always seem easier when we drive them!

#14 Clip Your Toenails

Get the clippers out and make sure you clip those toenails tight. There’s little worse than a stray toenail digging into the side of the adjacent toe at mile 18.

Also make sure you tape up any tender points or potential blister areas on your feet. A burst blister can end your race.

#15 Run A Couple Handy Miles On Saturday

Your mileage this coming week will be low. You’ll likely get out for a couple of 5 milers, and maybe a three mile on Saturday morning. Don’t risk anything this week.

Keep your runs low intensity and on grass if you can and consider adding in a couple of walks too. Needless to say stay out of the gym unless you’re stretching and rolling out.

#16 Bring €10 Just In Case

Consider firing a tenner in your sock or waist belt inside pocket. You just never know what you’ll need on your way around if the shit hits the fan.

What if you got heartburn or you get caught short? You’re running in the city so there’s bound to be a shop that you can nip into and get whatever you need.

#17 Don’t Kerb Hop

Some of you will be on your feet for 5 hours or more so avoid jumping up and down kerbs to pass others out. By the time you hit mile 22 you’ll need all the resources you can muster.

Kerb hopping will add up and take away from your valuable energy reserves so stick to the road and wait for an opportunity to pass slower runners.

#18 Keep The Pacer In Your Sights

You’ve likely already decided round about what time you plan to finish the race. So at the start, get in behind the pace balloon and just keep it in your sights until the crown breaks up.

This is likely to be about 5 or 6 miles so don’t panic, you’ll have plenty of time to catch up. Pacers generally have a bunch of people hanging out of them the whole way which can get a bit hectic.

Keeping them in your sights will be enough.

#19 Start Slow, Don’t Overtake

There are almost 20k people taking part on Sunday 30th so you’re going to have a slow start, just accept that. If you start weaving in and out of people you’ll be adding extra distance that can all add up.

You’ll see loads of people jumping in and out, bumping off you trying to keep their pace where they need it. Trust me, this is counter productive.

#20 Bring A Couple Spare Gels

If you use gels then bring a couple extra and stick them somewhere you won’t lose them. You never know where they might come in handy, if not for you then maybe to help out another runner.

I don’t use gels when I run but on marathon day and the chips are down, I’ll eat stuff off the ground if I get caught out. Best to have something in reserve.

#21 Change Quickly After You Finish

Your running gear will be wet and the air temperature probably won’t be any higher than about 12 degrees by the time your finished on Sunday so changing quickly is important.

Get out of your wet gear and into the change of clothes as soon as possible. You’ll be more comfortable and you’ll avoid the risk of going hypothermic – which is possible, I shit you not!

#22 Pack Good Nutrition For Afterwards

Getting good quality nutrition into you after the marathon is very important. Low blood sugar levels can lead to all kinds of problems including dizziness and blurred vision.

Your body temperature can drop fast too. I usually bring a couple of boiled eggs, a pita with peanut butter and jam, and a protein shake which I throw into me first.

#23 Celebrate!

Now it’s time to celebrate, but don’t go too bananas. Going on the lash after the marathon is a bad idea. Your body has just brought you through a tough challenge, you need to allow it recover.

Guzzling beer, wine and shorts down your neck is likely to be detrimental to your recovery, even dangerous to your health. Drink plenty of water and by all means have a couple of drinks, but don’t go overboard.

Reader Bonus: Download your free copy of the “23 First Time Marathon Tips Checklist” in PDF here.


These tips are obviously good for any marathon so keep them to hand, compile your own checklist and follow it through from start to finish in preparation for this, and future marathons. There’s no guarantees of course, but the better prepared you are, the better chance things will go your way.

If you need assistance in training for your next marathon, you want to hit a new PB or shed extra body fat that’s been hanging around too long, get in touch with me to arrange a one to one.

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