Usually, race day results reflect the quality and quantity of training. But in the case of the marathon – that 26.2-mile bucket list feat – little things on race day can make all the difference. Whether it's too much Gatorade causing cramps, a new shirt chafing so much that it draws blood, or a pasta primavera that's still sitting with you at mile 13, little mistakes are exaggerated in such a long race – and they can ruin everything. To get it right on race day, follow this tried-and-true advice.
Get some caffeine in your system.
As for that cup of coffee with breakfast, go ahead and have one. "Caffeine boosts endurance performance by affecting brain chemistry in a way that lowers perceived exertion, or how hard it feels to run at a given pace," says Matt Fitzgerald, a running coach who is one of the coaches for one of the best marathon training aids, the PearSports run tracker. Fitzgerald suggests taking a caffeine pill instead of coffee an hour before the start. "But it only works in those who are not habituated to caffeine," he says. His advice: Go caffeine-free one week before the race to get the full effect.
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