You’ve registered, you’ve trained your brain and your body, but how do you handle yourself when marathon morning is finally—eek—here?
From toting along awesome celeb inspiration to hair grooming habits reserved for the seriously bold and a few superstitious behaviors that can’t hurt, here’s what five marathon rockstars, like Top Chef king Richard Blais and celebrity running coach Eric Orton, do right before they hit the starting line. Because carb loading’s only part of the picture. —Molly Gallagher
Running coach and author of The Cool Impossible
Orton rose to fame as the coach of super athlete Christopher McDougall, star of the beloved bestseller Born to Run, so he knows a thing or two about running—marathons, specifically. But his pre-race routine isn’t for the faint of heart—or head. “One ritual I always do before a race is to shave my head. We’ve had some very close family members die of cancer, and this is my way of centering myself and driving home how lucky and blessed I am to be healthy and able to run,” says Orton.
Mental prep’s another biggie. “The week before a race, I will visualize the entire [thing], starting with the night before to the morning warm-up—and see myself race the entire course,” Orton adds. “I will do this each night.” And he takes along small hawk feather for a dose of animal inspiration.
(Photo: Eric Seymour)
Co-founder of Happy Philly + Co., the health and wellness event planning company
Layng’s a half-marathon fiend who counts several Philly Half Marathons (with one coming up in November) among her many 13.1 finishes—and she’s got her routine down pat.
“I always buy a brand new outfit and new sneakers (Mizuno Wave Riders) a week before the race,” she says. “Die-hard marathoners say never to do this, because of chafing and blisters, but I like to feel fresh when I race—and haven’t had any issues yet.” Then she further fancifies her feet by painting her toenails pink the night before.
Day-of, Layng makes sure to eat a hearty breakfast of one cup oatmeal with a teaspoon of olive oil and sea salt, and kicks off each race with three jumps on the starting line. “I started doing this in college…and it just stuck,” she says.
Chief Clinical Officer at Orthology
Sports medicine specialist Josh Sandell, DC, helps tons of professional and Olympic athletes with their injuries and chronic pain. But when he needs his own support, he looks to one lady, and one lady only: Oprah. “[I always] bring my wallet-sized pic of Oprah to remind myself that she did it,” he says.
Sandell also cops to indulging in some pre-race nerves, praying to “the lightning Gods for an event cancellation.” Then he gets real, and gets ready—by paying homage to his toes: “I deeply apologize to my feet and let them know that their toenails will grow back,” he says.
Senior Brand Manager at Athleta
Destination marathoners (those who don’t live in NYC and travel for the race) can learn a thing or two from the packing prowess of Garvey, who booked herself into a Staten Island hotel room before a recent New York City Marathon, to avoid standing around in the cold for hours and getting anxious.
“I knew I wasn’t going back to the hotel after the race [she was staying with friends in Manhattan], so I planned ahead and only brought items that I felt comfortable throwing away or carrying with me during the run,” she says. The sweats Garvey wore to stay warm in pre-race doubled as her PJs the night before, and she saved “toothpaste, face soap, deodorant, and arnica gel that were just about to run out and brought those with me so I didn’t feel guilty throwing away a half-used tube.” Then she just packed her ID, a little cash and a credit card, plus the food she was going to eat on the run. Preparation equals perfection, perhaps?
(Photo: We Heart It)
Chef and former Top Chef contestant
When he’s not in the kitchen, Blais, an Atlanta-based chef and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars, has become an avid marathoner. And he’s found a way to embrace his reality show roots while doing it. “I tweet and make Vine videos during the race so that my fans can follow me,” he says.
In addition to his crazy culinary skills, Blais is well-known for losing 60 pounds by eating well and maintaining his running routine. But he makes sure his post-race routine gives him something to look forward to. “I fuel up on some chocolate milk, take an ice bath, and treat myself to a nice dry-aged steak,” he says.
Not sure if you’ve trained enough? Here’s how to find out if you’re ready for your race. And if you want to up your time, these are 7 (surprising) ways to improve that have nothing to do with running at all.