Boston Marathon Checklist

Posted: March 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

“Imperfect preparation gives rise to the thousand-fold forms that express physical and mental inferiority and insecurity!”    -Alfred Adler

It’s never too early to begin planning for Marathon weekend and beyond.  Here are my recommendations that will hopefully provide some basic guidelines to ensure you’re as prepared as possible for the marathon.  This checklist has been developed over 15 years of coaching marathon runners for the Boston Marathon.

I hope that you will offer any additional recommendations!

Marathon Weekend Checklist

• Rick Muhr •


Copyright: Rick Muhr•Head Running Coach•Marathon Coalition ©

Ÿ  Be sure to bring your driver’s license and your Number Pick Up Card to the Hynes Convention Center.

Ÿ  Save the bag that your number comes in as this is the bag that you will drop off at the buses returning to Boston once you leave the Athlete’s Village for the starting area.

Ÿ  Be sure that you have your Champion Chip before you depart the number area.

Ÿ  When visiting the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo DO NOT INGEST ANY OF THE SAMPLES BEFORE THE MARATHON!

Ÿ  Most of the Boston Marathon apparel that you see in local stores and at the Expo will be on sale after the marathon at significant savings.

Ÿ  Don’t wear anything that you purchased at the Expo in the marathon.

Ÿ  Try to get your number and Expo visitation over sooner rather than later.  As the weekend progresses this area becomes far more hectic.  You want to minimize the stress as much as possible before the marathon.

Ÿ  Saturday night is your most important night of sleep.  The odds are that you will not sleep as well Sunday night.

Ÿ  Don’t introduce anything new or different into your diet before the marathon.

Ÿ  Start organizing EVERYTHING that you think you’ll need before/during/after the marathon now.

Ÿ  Check your shoe laces to be sure they don’t require replacing.  It can be disheartening to break a lace just before the marathon.

Ÿ  When you affix your number to your singlet DO NOT attach the bottom of your number to your shorts.  You will understand why if you have to use the restroom.

Ÿ  Place your Champion Chip near the top of your laces.  You’ll want the BAA volunteers to be able to remove this quickly once you cross the finish line.

Ÿ  You can improve the circulation in your legs if you elevate the foot of your bed several inches Saturday and Sunday night before the marathon.  This results in your legs not feeling as tired.

Ÿ  DO NOT WEAR THE SHOES YOU ARE PLANNING TO WEAR IN THE MARATHON TO THE ATHLETE’S VILLAGE.  I have seen countless runners walk through wet grass in their marathon shoes before the race.  Wear an old pair and change into your marathon shoes after you leave the Athlete’s Village and are on pavement. 

Ÿ  Double knot your shoes but not too tightly because your feet are going to swell during the marathon.

Ÿ  Bring several large garbage bags to Hopkinton (several to sit on in the grass and one to punch a hole in the bottom and use as a poncho.

Ÿ  Bring a marker if you want to write something on your arms or legs before the marathon.

Ÿ  Writing your name on your singlet may seem like a good idea if you think you’ll benefit from the encouragement but I would not recommend it.  You want to recognize the people who REALLY know you when they call your name from the crowd.  It gets a little annoying, especially for the people running near you, to constantly hear your name being called.

Ÿ  Don’t forget the sunscreen and be sure to apply it even it’s going to be overcast.  The back of the neck and the back of the knees are two areas extremely vulnerable to sunburn.

Ÿ  Coat your feet and areas of friction liberally with Body Glide before the marathon.

Ÿ  Remove all jewelry before the marathon.  Fingers and toes tend to expand quite a bit during the marathon.

Ÿ  Wearing sunglasses will keep your face relaxed and will actually conserve energy.

Ÿ  I carry a small sponge with me to douse with water and wipe my face during the marathon.

Ÿ  I also carry a small straw with me to sip through at the aid stations.  You want to avoid taking in excess air as it can upset your stomach.


Ÿ  Leave the Athlete’s Village for the starting line no later than 9:45 a.m. and enter the corral that corresponds with your race number.  You will be allowed to move back to a corral with higher numbers but you cannot move forward. 

Ÿ  If you plan to check a bag in Hopkinton and retrieve it in Boston you should do this on your way to the starting line.  The buses will have a range of numbers posted on them so simply go to the bus that has your corresponding number.

Ÿ  I will be in the first wave departing at 10:00 a.m. so I will need to depart by 9:15 a.m.

Ÿ  Your official running time will not begin until you cross the starting line and activate your Champion Chip.  None of the times posted on the marathon course will have any relevance to you so simply monitor your watch if time is important to you.

Ÿ  Here is my strategy for running Boston:  Run the first 5 miles extremely conservatively, allowing my body to completely warm up and minimizing the damage of the extreme downhills.  I will then do most of my faster running from miles 5-15.  I will throttle my pace back as I drop down into Newton Lower Falls just after mile 15 and until I get to the top of Heartbreak Hill (Mile 21).  I will then evaluate how I’m feeling and then push again the final 5 miles.

Ÿ  The best way to complete a marathon is with even and negative splits.  Negative splits simply mean running the second half faster than the first.  This is not very easy considering the second half is more difficult than the first.  But if you run conservatively the first half you’ll improve your chances. 

Ÿ  Your goal should be to get to mile 15 in relatively good shape/condition.

Ÿ  If you have friends and family meeting you along the course be sure you know which side they’ll be on as you are running.  I recommend having them carry a helium balloon so you can spot them immediately.

Ÿ  I don’t recommend taking aid from any of the spectators.  While good intentioned, there could be bacteria on their hands (remember the aforementioned samples at the Expo) that could adversely affect you.

Ÿ  If you wear a watch during the marathon please don’t shut it off as you cross the finish line.  You don’t want your finisher’s picture to be of you shutting your watch off.  You will get an official time after the marathon so the time on your watch is really meaningless.

Ÿ  Be sure that your number is completely unobstructed as you approach the finish line.  Otherwise, you risk not getting a picture of your finish.

Ÿ  Once you finish your goal should be to continue moving and eat and drink as quickly as you can.  Be sure to accept the mylar blanket the volunteers will wrap around you.

Ÿ  Take a moment to glance down and appreciate the medal they will also place around your neck once you finish!

Ÿ  Taking a hot shower is possibly the riskiest part of your marathon day.  Keep the temperature moderate and have something non-alcoholic to drink while showering.  Keeping the door open, if possible, will also help prevent the humidity from building up. 

Ÿ  Check it with your respective Charity to let them know you have finished and are okay.  My cell phone is 508-353-6699 and I will be monitoring this number all weekend.  The only time I will not have my phone with me is when I’m running.

Ÿ  I don’t recommend running after the marathon until the pain completely subsides.

Ÿ  Walking and cross training will be instrumental in your recovery.

Ÿ  Take the time to thank all the people who were instrumental in helping you accomplish this incredible achievement.

Ÿ  I will always be grateful for the opportunity to play a small role in your amazing accomplishment…thank you!


  1. Cheryl Reed says:

    So awesome!!!! Thank you. It always helps my nerves when there is someone to help me plan:)

  2. Hello Cheryl,

    One of your primary objectives should be to reduce stress in the closing weeks…proper planning allows you to accomplish this.

    Your Coach,


  3. Amy Campisi says:

    This is IT! I love the marathon. So excited and proud for ALL of you. It will be a great day – many cheers to all – see you at the finish!

  4. We will see YOU at the finish line, Amy. Thank you for volunteering. Nothing significant in life is ever accomplished alone!


  5. Heidi Lindert says:

    Houston, we have a problem. I started to develop ITB pain during our 19 mile run, and during our 12 mile run my kneecap felt like it was actually shifting as I moved. I’m terrified about Saturday’s 20 miler, but I know I need to get those miles in. I haven’t logged enough miles on my shoes to justify needing a new pair (nowhere near 500 miles). I don’t care about the expense of a new pair, I just worry about the adjustment and whether it may help or hurt my existing leg problems. So I guess I have two questions– do I do the run Saturday and do I get new shoes?

  6. Hello Heidi,

    I think a visit to Marathon Sports is definitely a good choice. I also wouldn’t worry about missing the 20 miler this Saturday. Worst case scenario, running 20 next week would still provide more than two weeks to taper. You certainly don’t want to attempt the 20 miler if you’re experiencing ITB pain.

    I recommend that you cross-train, use the stick or foam roller and ice for the next two days and see if you’re showing improvement. Please keep me posted on your progress and we’ll revise your strategy if necessary.


    • Heidi Lindert says:

      I bought new shoes and ran in them and a brand new pair of “compression” running pants yesterday, and I felt ok. I don’t know if that’s because my leg/knee has improved, or because I was so vacuum-packed into those running pants that nothing was able to move. If I run tomorrow I think I should wear the compression pants to see how it goes. Though highly unflattering, they seem to provide some stability.

      • Hello Heidi,

        I would definitely wear your new shoes and ‘vacuum-packed’ compression tights. I’ve had mine on since the completion of my 20 miler this morning.

        I look forward to seeing you in the morning.

        Sleep well!


  7. […] The big bad Boston Marathon list.  I’m checking it twice.  And I’ll probably still forget something critical.  Like my shoes. […]

  8. You may have a nightmare that you’ve forgotten your shoes but I’m confident you’ll remember them!

  9. Mark Duffield says:

    Rick, question about shoes at the Athlete’s Village. You advise changing into the race shoes once you leave the Athlete’s Village and are on pavement. Do you then just abandon your first set of shoes?

    Thanks again for your sage advice.


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