What are you wearing under that? Half marathon race day hints and tips.

Me and my Canadian running brother post London Marathon 2013.

‘What are you wearing under that?’ my wife anxiously asked as I donned for the first time the grass skirt I intended to wear whilst running the London Marathon in 2013.

‘I’m not entirely sure‘ I replied equally as anxious.  Perhaps I hadn’t clearly thought this through.

As it transpired and in ‘hindsight’ (or more appropriately – given the manner in which the tribal skirt disintegrated throughout the streets of London – ‘behindsight’)  I have learnt that outfit selection is one of the many facets of preparation a runner might want to consider prior to race day.

The fact that the spectator’s lining the Mall didn’t necessarily have to pay to see the ‘Crown Jewels’ that day is something that still haunts me.

However, at least it gives me some (if little) insight into providing some useful hints and tips for race day.

The week before


Hopefully by this point the hard arduous runs have been completed and this weeks focus can be on bringing down the mileage or ‘tapering’ as experienced runners call it.

From my perspective I just want to remain injury and illness free although ironically as I type I am sipping on ginger tea and have been knocking back the Lemsips as if it is a cure for baldness.

As a side point I might have even coined the phrase ‘chesty cough’ to my wife and I think  we both realised at that point my rugby playing days are over.

Anyway, the maximum distance I will aim run this week will most probably be five miles and I will look to give myself two days rest before race day, although personally I do like to do a gentle twenty minute run the day before to keep the legs moving.

Footwear and Clothing

If you are thinking of wearing clown shoes that is no small feat.

On a serious note a friend of mine (who is also in training for Cardiff half marathon) thoughtfully sent me a picture of his ankle which currently resembles any of the infected characters limbs in the ‘walking dead’.

Unfortunately he had made the common mistake of purchasing a new pair of running shoes (like myself see pic below) with race day looming, and run some distance without breaking them in.

My feet training for London Marathon 2013 (Pre-marriage hence far better maintained these days)

My advice here is if you’ve done your training in flippers, wear flippers, and if you have frustratingly acquired any last minute blisters give yourself time to heal in order that you can enjoy race day pain free.

Likewise with clothing the same applies.  Along with my fashion faux pas during the London Marathon I also experienced the running phenomenon know as ‘Chaffing’.

Choose your clothing carefully as running with your hand cupping your nipples or down your shorts in order to alleviate pain isn’t a good look.  It is again advisable to give your clothing a test run.

Tip – On race day as its often cold in the UK at this time of year I like to wear an old top that I don’t mind losing and wear it until the race starts at which point I discard it. I believe any discarded clothing is given to charity in Cardiff or so I believe/hope.


As I wrote that word I actually laughed out loud especially as my wife and I have two children who may well have well been badgers or owls in their former lives.

In this vein, I accept that this element of advice may well be a stretch too far for some parents however getting quality sleep will certainly help prepare the body and mind for demands of a half marathon.


‘Carbing up’ and attending a ‘Pasta Party’ have become synomous with any pre-race dietary advice for a long distance race.

Personally, the last thing I want to feel as I stand at the start of a race is like a bowl of linguini possibly made worse by potent garlic breath.

Pasta is obviously a great choice of food the night prior to a race however it can be detrimental to overeat.  If you are not a fan of pasta high carb foods such as rice and potatoes are a good replacement.

It’s probably sensible to keep eating in the same manner as you’ve eaten whilst training and increasing carbohydrate intake slowly towards the end of the week.

On race day itself I like to get up a good few hours before the race and have a bowl of porridge with a banana.  Toast with banana and peanut butter is another one of my favourites.

Tip- Just before the race I often have a few bites of a Snickers bar so give me a little sugar/energy hit.


Another friend of mine (yes I have two) who is also embarking on his first half marathon mentioned casually this week that he is ‘Wetting the baby’s Head’ the night prior to Cardiff Half Marathon.

(To be honest it was only a year ago I was kindly invited on my brother-in-laws stag do,whereby each morning after an evening drinking session I would venture out for a run before we were handed the first alcoholic drink of the day in desperation to sweat out and out run the ensuing hangover)

However, I stress running a few miles with a sore head and running a half marathon are different animals and I would not advise a night out prior to running 13.2 miles.

I will state though that there have been times in my life whereby I’ve been called ‘Shandy Andy’ so what do I know?

Drink plenty of water – It is advisable to stay hydrated throughout the week and especially the night before the race.

Tip – During the race take small sips of any water or energy drinks provided as that should be sufficient to keep you hydrated without bloating your stomach.


Enjoy the Race

You’ve done the training and even if you haven’t try and relax and enjoy the day!

Running or walking a half marathon is an incredible achievement so take in the atmosphere and enjoy being in the company of thousands of other like minded runners all running for different reasons whether it be for a charity or a personal challenge and look forward to celebrating that achievement on finishing the race.

Me and a fellow running friend (wow thats 3) celebrating after Cardiff Half a few years back.


Race Day Eve and Race Day Summary

Race Day Eve

  1. Eat some pasta (not too much)
  2. One beer or glass of wine won’t hurt (No session)
  3. Stay hydrated
  4. Go to bed early (Nookie optional – although probably not if you have children)

Race Day

  1. Get up early
  2. Eat some breakfast a few hours before the race
  3. Get to the race early and give yourself time to use the toilets.
  4. Stay warm
  5. Enjoy
  6. Celebrate
  7. Sign up for the next race

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2 thoughts on “What are you wearing under that? Half marathon race day hints and tips.”

  1. What a pleasure to read – funny but informative
    Do you think if you are going to run in fancy dress you should have a dress rehearsal? I wonder how people viewed you running around CARDIFF in a grass skirt and bare chest?
    Ivor Baddie

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