Planning is everything
Race day is what you've worked for for months, so leave nothing to chance. Think about how will you travel to the race start? Where will you park? Is there somewhere to leave your baggage? What is the registration procedure? All these questions need to be dealt with so that you can free your mind and focus solely on the race.
Know the marathon course
Yes, it's 26.2 miles (or 42.16km), but what do you know about the route? Where are the hill sections and how many are there? Where are the drinks stations, or where do you think you might you need to position a friend along the course to supply you with energy drinks? Ideally, you'd want to have run part of the route or driven it beforehand, but this is not always possible, in which case finding out as much as you can from other sources will be invaluable.
Tapering for your marathon
Failure to taper properly is responsible for many a poor marathon performance. Tapering is the opportunity for you to scale back your training in the final few weeks to allow your body to recover for the race. Tapering doesn't mean doing no training at all, but means following a carefully structured taper program that allows your body to recover well. A well executed taper can give you between a 5 per cent and 10 per cent improvement overall, so follow the tapering guidelines in your plan.
Be prepared for the weather
You need to be prepared for whatever weather comes your way on race day. Some marathons come at a time when the weather could be anything from snow to a glorious sunny day. Think about some of the strategies that you have employed on previous training runs, whether it be extra hydration on a warm day, or layering on a cold day. By being prepared you've eliminated one of your areas of uncertainty and made you chances of success far greater.
'Imagine' running success
An often overlooked area of preparation is mental training. Visualisation techniques where you 'imagine' positive images of you running can help performance. Imagine yourself running with good form all the way to the finish. Thinking positively will help rid you of any thoughts of failure. When the going gets tough during your race, recall these positive images and they will help you get through any rough patches.
Fuel your running
For endurance races, the runner will need to have stored glycogen in their liver and muscles through carbohydrate loading. The more carbohydrate that you can store, the longer it will be until you hit the dreaded 'wall'. Eat the right foods and focus on a high carbohydrate intake in the run-up to your race and try to keep your stores topped up as you run by taking on board energy drinks at regular intervals.
Pace yourself well
As anyone who watches athletics on TV will know, the athlete who heads off from a distance race at fast pace from the start very rarely if ever wins. Start off too fast and you'll pay for it later on, especially in the marathon. Before the race, calculate your splits (either by mile or km intervals) and practice running at that pace until it is locked into into your psyche. On the day of the race, write your splits on the back of your hand and check your pace as you run.
Keeping your focus for the duration of marathon isn't easy, especially when tiredness creeps in, but by concentrating, this will help you save energy by keeping your running efficient. It will also help you follow the shortest route around the course. Race measurers always measure diagonally corner to corner, so cutting the bends is a surefire way of save you time and energy, which can be especially important when running a marathon distance!
Having put so much effort much effort into your training and the the taper phase, the last thing you want to do is blow your chances by not preparing correctly. By paying attention to all the tips outlined above is guaranteed to improve your performance, whether your aim is just completing the race or you are going for a PB. Your opportunity to run a marathon doesn't come around frequently, so make sure that you aren't left with regrets after running yours.