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What Should I Do The Night Before a Race?

Are you about to run your first marathon? Unsure how to prepare? No matter what distance you are running, doing the right preparation the night before can be critical to your success.

To help you design your own perfect plan, we asked four experts from various fields withing the running scene for their pre-race routine.

Lisa Weightman

3 x Olympian, 2 x Commonwealth Medalist -, @lisaweightman

My night before routine starts mid morning! The times I haven’t followed it I haven’t raced as well.

If I’m racing early the next morning I like to run reasonably early the morning prior, 30mins with some 30second strides. When I do these in the late afternoon I don’t feel as good and that creates negative thoughts. Perhaps a superstition but let’s not waste too many more races finding out!

I like to eat lunch at brunch time and dinner late afternoon so I can digest it well before I race the next morning.

If I can be with my family being relatively normal that makes for a better mindset too!

I have ran my best races with little sleep the night before as long as I’ve had a good sleep the two nights before that! So don’t stress if you can’t get to sleep! It usually means something exciting is about to happen! 🤞🏼


Matt Davy

2:24 Marathon Runner, Online Running Coach -

I always like to picture race eve as like preparation for battle. What can you do in that moment to ensure the next day you can get to that start line with the least amount of stress possible.

So when the time comes, you're purely ready and relaxed to go to work. Firstly, know how you're getting to that start line (take note of potential road closures and parking!) and how long it will take.

Eat something you know sits well in your stomach and will give you enough energy to get through the challenges that lay forward. Make certain your bib is pinned to your race singlet, with all your gear ready packed and clothes and any morning food/drink laid out (think #flatlay).

Write a note on your hand, of any cues or mantras that will help you refocus during those trying race moments. Have a read over your training log to reinforce the fact that you've put the effort in, which will give you confidence for the fight ahead.

Then try not to think about the race too much, as now it's time to rest, knowing you're fully prepared to set out the next day and take on whatever gets thrown at you!


Dr Izzy Smith

Doctor (Physician + Sport & Exercise), Race Medic - @doctorizzyksmith

I eat a bowl of ravioli with a simple tomato sauce. I don’t go overboard on the carb loading because if I’ve tapered my training appropriately but kept eating normally my glycogen stores should already be pretty full.😊

I drink a couple of extra glasses of water in the days leading up to the event but I DON'T over-hydrate. Working as medic at trail events we see far more illness from over-hydration than dehydration.

Our bodies are pretty good at functioning whilst a little dehydrated but just a few percent over-hydrated and we risk our sodium levels dropping which usually presents with confusion and headaches or seizures and coma if severe.

If I’ve got a niggle and I’m doing a longish event > 2-3 hours I pop some Panadol pre-race but I stick away from Neurofen and other non-steroidals. These medications decrease blood flow to the kidneys which day to day in normal kidneys is fine but after hours and hours of exercise isn’t a good idea and hence why they are banned in some European trail events!

Finally... I slap on some sunscreen, put a smile on my dial, thank all the lovely volunteers I run past and feel grateful for how lucky I am to have this healthy strong body to take with me on adventures through the trails!


Brady Threlfall

2:19 Marathon Runner, Online Running Coach -

I always make sure i've got everything I need for race day, I usually flat lay it all out on my bed before the night to ensure it's all there so I can relax and not waste energy on it the morning of the race.

I'll also make sure my bib is pinned on, there's nothing worse than stressing out just minutes before the race, trying to get the bib position correct with sweaty hands.


Do you have any "night-before" rituals? Let us know in the comments below!