Race day routines

Published 08 May 2018

We chat to five NN Running Team athletes to find out more about their pre-race preparations on marathon day.

Florence Kiplagat (KEN) – Two-time former Chicago and Berlin Marathon winner

“I usually wake at 4am on a marathon race day and take a shower. Some of the races, such as the London Marathon, provide a kitchen in the room and my cousin and I, who often share a room together, will prepare breakfast. I like to drink two cups of Kenyan tea with four scoops of sugar in each. I like to eat something which does not consume my stomach, so I might often only eat a banana before a race.

I never switch my phone on (during race-day morning) – I like to be myself in my own world (without any distractions).  I often talk with my coach (Renato Canova) the on morning of a race, although I often don’t hear him because I am often very nervous.

The way I handle the nerves is to sleep. I often fall asleep in the lobby while waiting for the bus to transport me to the start and then I can often sleep on the bus too.

As soon as I step off the bus my nerves disappear. In the warm up area I might do about 40 minutes of running and stretching. During this final minutes before the race, I make a point of going up to all my rivals and telling them “may the best woman win.”

Kipkemoi Kipsang (KEN) – A 2:09 marathoner

“When I first get up on marathon day, I prayer and if I am sharing a room with a fellow competitor I will give them encouragement. I’ll next eat breakfast. The food can change depending on the hotel, but I’ll often eat two slices of plain toasted bread. I’ll also drink one or two cups of black tea. If I can, I will prepare breakfast in my room.

“After my breakfast has settled, I’ll then go for a slow run for between 20-30 minutes at a slow pace. I do limited stretching. I try not to listen to music, and instead focus on the race and what tactics I will adopt.”

Abel Kirui (KEN) – Two-time former world marathon champion

“The first thing I do on the morning of a race is to go down on my knees and pray to God. I ask him for energy, although I hope he blesses me a little more than my rivals (laughing).

I then stretch for a while and next I make sure my race day kit is organised. I lay out on the bed my vest, shorts, socks and shoes. I often bring three pairs of shoes with me and decide pair to race in. I tight-fitting pair can create too much friction and destroy the feet over the marathon distance. I like my shoes to have some room. 

Next I will eat breakfast, where I will aim to have something which is easy to digest. I might have some tea with honey and a chapati or a pancake.

Before a race I tend to do a 20 to 30-minute warm up. I don’t feel a need to run up to an hour, like some athletes, I find this is too much. You need to remember the hard work has already been put in during the two to three months before an event. I will then do some stretching and sprints. By this point the body should be warmed up, just like the engine of a plane.”

Laban Korir (KEN) – A 2:05 marathoner and podium finisher at the 2017 Rotterdam Marathon

“I wake up and say a prayer to God that today will be a good day for me. I take a shower and then I’ll have breakfast. I’ll drink tea, eat bread or sometimes a banana.

I’ll limit my warm up to around 20 minutes with a slow jog. I’ll finish with some sprints. I’m often very nervous in the wait for the start, but I have to remember nerves are a good thing and that they will disappear once the race starts. I’ll then wish my rivals good luck and be ready to race.”

Abdi Nageeye (NED) – Dutch marathon record-holder

“I like to rise five hours before I am due to race a marathon. Sometimes I’ll wake and go for an easy 20-minute run. I’m often very relaxed on a race day and many ask, why I am not more nervous?

Before breakfast I might read to some news or listen to music. I like many forms of music but on race day I like to listen to rock. Maybe some Queen, David Bowie or Prince. Something I can sing along with! I start to eat my breakfast three hours before the race. I’ll drink a coffee and eat white bread with either jam, peanut butter or apple syrup. I’ll also have a yoghurt and lots of water. I eat my breakfast slowly (on race day) and it can sometimes take me up to one-and-a-half hours.

I am often one of the later guys to start my warm up of gentle running. I don’t really stretch as I think this is for training. On the start line I’m still relaxed. I know it is going to hurt but I remind myself I’ve already put the hard work in during the previous four months of training.”