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.
Know when to stop.
Cramping is common enough – if you feel a side stitch, or a sudden muscle contraction, slow down. Have a sip of Gatorade if it persists and ease back to your normal pace when it goes away. But if you have to change your gait – to favor a leg, avoid pain, or get through that cramp – it's probably an injury where you need to stop. Once you're limping or hopping, it's time to call it a day, rather than putting yourself on a months-long injury reserve.
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