Boston Marathon Checklist

Posted: January 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

Perfect 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 17 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 ©

Be sure to bring your driver’s license and your Number Pick Up Card when picking up your marathon number.

ŸSave 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.

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

ŸMost 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.

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

ŸTry 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.

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

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

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

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

ŸWhen 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.

ŸYou 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.

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.

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

ŸBring 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. I large piece of folded cardboard to sit on will also help to conserve your energy.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

ŸI 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.


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.

ŸIf 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.

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.

ŸHere 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.

ŸThe best way to complete a marathon is with even or 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.

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

ŸIf 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.

ŸI 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.

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.

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

ŸOnce 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.

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

ŸCheck 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.

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

Ice baths, hydration, clean eating, plenty of sleep, walking and cross training will be instrumental in your recovery.

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

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


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