Countdown: 12 hours to the race

Countdown: 12 hours to the race

If you have been training for any of the running events—marathon or half marathon—coming up in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, you should be ready to sprint now. If you haven’t been training, it is too late to start now, so wait until next year (and make sure you start on time).

Prepare for the early start on the day of the marathon by organizing on the day-before-the-run evening.

Cut out this list of dos and don’ts and keep it handy.

The timings are based on the first of the races coming up, the Delhi half marathon; but you can always count back 12 hours from the race start time in your city (see Running Times) and adapt this checklist accordingly.

Also Read How to train for a half marathon

Treadmill: Life’s a marathon

The day before the race

Don’t go running. Take it easy—if you’ve been training, you’ve done enough. If you really must, go for a 1-2km run in the morning. Don’t make plans to train in the evening.


• You’ll need three small bags to fit into one lightweight and waterproof bag. One bag for the stuff you’ll need in the morning, and two others to hold the things you will need during the race and after you cross the finish line

• Do not pack anything new (especially T-shirt or shoes) for the day of the race. Everything you pack should have been tried and tested during your training runs — not just once, but several times

Morning/pre-race bag

• Full sleeve T-shirt or tracksuit top

• Track pants

• Mobile phone

• Change of Rs50 (the parking lot is not always close to the start point)

• Water bottle

• Large bin liner (if it’s cold, bin liners work very well to keep you warm while you wait for the run to begin, and you won’t mind discarding them as you set off).

Running bag

• Running shoes

• Socks

• Dry-weave T-shirt (not cotton)

• Bib with your participant number (attach four safety pins to the corners; on the back, write your name and the phone number of a person to contact in an emergency)

• Shorts

• Sunglasses (it’ll get quite bright after 7am or so, but bring this only if you’re used to wearing one while you run)

• Cap (if you are used to wearing one while you run)

• Belt pouch for on-the-run snacks

After-race bag

• Change of Rs50 (the finish point may not be very close to the parking lot)

• Water bottle

• Dry snack foods, fruit (cereal bars, bananas, etc.)

• A complete change of clothes, including a fresh set of underclothes and a pair of comfortable slippers or floaters

• Set of adhesive bandages for blisters and minor cuts

• For men: Thick cream (such as Nivea), petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline), or micropore tape to protect your nipples (bleeding from friction is not unusual, and is not just embarrassing but painful)


• Eat a carbohydrate-rich dinner. The “traditional" marathoners’ choice would be pasta or pizza. Rice is great as well.


• Call the people you intend to carpool with and confirm arrangements (who, where, when). Also ask a friend or a co-runner or participant to call you at 5am, as a back-up plan in case your alarm clock experiences sudden death or you to hit the snooze button.


• Set an alarm for 5am; go to bed early

The day of the race


• Rise and shine, take your own sweet time in the loo

• Also take stock: Are you feeling good? Most medical emergencies during races occur because people were unwell but did not wish to miss the event. If you check off any of the following, please don’t run

• Feeling feverish

• Having flu-like symptoms

• Feeling nauseous

• Having diarrhoea

• Feeling chest pain

• Even if you are raising money for charity, or running to prove a point to yourself or to your friends, it is unfair to your sponsoring charity and the race support staff if you become a medical emergency on the track. There are many other races that you will be able to compete in.


• Double-check your packing list and the contents of your bags

• Pack your belt pouch with your choice of mid-marathon nutrition:

• A sports drink

• 2 cereal bars

• A handful of non-sticky semi-soft candy, such as jelly beans, wine gums or jelly babies

• 1 jam/butter/cheese sandwich

• A couple of fruits, such as bananas (a runners’ favourite), apples or oranges

• 2 handfuls of dried fruit


Eat your breakfast...or not

• This is a personal choice. Some people like to eat a bit before the run, others (like me, I confess) don’t. It is actually important to “practise" your pre-race snack too during training, to find out what works best for you.

• If you do eat breakfast or would like to bring something along to eat in the car, it is advisable to choose a light snack. Ideally you want about 250-300g carbohydrates, but very little fibre to avoid causing a stomach upset. No need to fix anything special—just have something high-carb for energizing, similar to the items you’d carry on your run, or maybe a low-fat fruit yogurt

• Some people would like to eat, but find it difficult because of nerves. In this case, try a liquid meal such as a fruit smoothie or fruit yogurt drink


Leave home

• To get to the venue in good time, you need to take into account various road blockages due to the race route, and then give yourself time to find the parking lot, get a space...and not race to the start line


On your mark…and drink up

• Use your waiting time to stay well hydrated. Drink 250ml of water or a sports drink in sips over the next half-hour—but don’t gulp your drink down right before the race

During the race


Start running…

Start… slower than what you know you are capable of. You have enough distance and time to catch up

First aid… will probably not be needed if you have followed a training programme faithfully. If you do find you need medical attention, go to one of the race’s First Aid posts, located at various points along the route

Drink… some water. There are water stations positioned every 2km. Take a few sips at every station, but don’t drink it all or you’ll overdo it (although this is only a half marathon, over-hydration is a very big problem among novice runners. This can cause a rare but fatal condition called hyponatremic encephalopathy, when there is too much water to balance the sodium salts in your body and this leads to water retention in the brain. Just be guided by your thirst, not your apprehension)

• The stations are long, so don’t stop at the start, where it’s crowded. Go on ahead, and you will find a spot that is free

• When you are going to stop, look behind and move to the side, out of the way of other runners so they needn’t collide or swerve to avoid you

• Don’t take more than one bottle if you can help it. Consider the others behind you (you can always get a refill at the next station)

• Don’t glug it all down. Take the bottle with you to sip as and when you need to

• When you discard your bottle, do so carefully. It’s easy for runners to trip over a bottle in their path or bump into another runner who suddenly swerves into their path

Say those manning the stations! They are all volunteers and are out there to make it an enjoyable day for you

Eat… if you take any longer than 2 hours for 21km, please eat! Forgoing food is not heroic, merely dangerous to you and potentially a nuisance for others (who may have to tend to you when you faint). Options: sports drinks, cereal bars, jam sandwiches, pieces of fruit, handfuls of dried fruits (remember the belt pouch?). Have your first snack around 30 minutes into the race, aiming for 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour, and continue at regular intervals

At the finish line

Finish… and keep walking. Don’t just stop short as soon as you cross the line. You need to cool down, and this way other runners coming in are less likely to barrel into you too

Change… into warm, dry clothes. Get to the baggage area as soon as you can—where you should get your kit—and then head for the reunion area




Related articles

Dr Rajat Chauhan is also blogging about his own experiment with minimalist running footwear over the next few months. Read about it on

If going barefoot is too radical for you and you’re not quite ready for minimal footwear either, here’s help on selecting running shoes. Also ReadFor the shoe to fit

Racing with the brand

Nike LunaRacer: This shoe uses the Flywire technology (engineered support for the foot) and LunarLite (cushioning system). A pair weighs approximately 312g. Priced at Rs8,500, available at Nike stores countrywide.

Reebok SelectRide: This is a multifunctional shoe that transforms flat trainers into running shoes with adjustable cushioning. Price starts at Rs16,000, available at select Reebok stores countrywide.

Adidas adiSTAR Ride II: This shoe has a combination of ForMotion and adiPRENE technologies in the midsole for smooth touchdown despite high-impact forces. A pair of shoes weigh 344g. Priced at Rs8,499, available at Adidas stores countrywide.

PUMA LIFT Racer: A pair of LIFT (light injected foam technology) Racer shoes weigh 346g. It has a breathable mesh. There is a separate version for women. Prices start at Rs2,999, available at Puma outlets countrywide. Varuni Khosla

After the race

Celebrate… what you’ve achieved. However, while spirits are high, it is easy to forget about recovery. Don’t.

Drink… water or fruit juice in moderation, NOT large amounts. You should rehydrate gradually over the next 24-48 hours. Eat salty food and space out your drinks to regulate your isotonic balance. If juices taste too acidic, dilute with water. Remember: Water will replace fluids as well as any commercial drink.

Eat… within 4 hours, ideally sooner. Within the first hour, it’s most important to have proteins to help your muscles recover. After that you need carbohydrates to top up your depleted glycogen reserves.

Recover… over the next two days. Yes, it takes that long for your muscles to recuperate, with lots of carbohydrate foods and rest. Of course, this means you have plenty of time and needn’t run to recover. Rajat Chauhan

Running times

• The Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (21.097km) is on 1 November. The senior citizens’ run (4.3km) starts at 7.10am, the main event at 7.30am, the wheelchair event (3.5km) at 7.45am and the Great Delhi Run (7km) at 9.30am. For details, log on to

• The Bangalore Ultra Marathon is on 15 November. An ultra marathon is a run of more than 42km. This race, however, has 12.5km, 25km, 50km, 75km and 100km events. Timings are yet to be announced. For details, log on to

• The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (42.195km) is on 17 January. It includes a half marathon (21.097km), a dream run (6km), a senior citizens’ run (4.3km) and a wheelchair event (2.5km). Timings are yet to be announced. For details, log on to

Dr Rajat Chauhan is a practitioner of sports and exercise medicine and musculoskeletal medicine, and CEO of the Back 2 Fitness chain of clinics specializing in injury rehabilitation, rehabilitation and performance enhancement.

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