people running a race

What to Expect on Race Day

If you’re training to run your first marathon or 5K race, you should know that proper run training extends beyond the physical. Part one of the EōS Fitness two-part 5K and marathon blog series covers everything from how to work up to 26-mile runs to the importance of a specialized diet and sleep routine, but this article dives into the common discomforts (not just blisters) you’ll want to prepare for and avoid, and includes a few etiquette tips you’ll want to embrace on race day.

Time Tracking Race Bib

Either at check-in or in advance after registration, you’ll receive a race bib with a number printed on it, which is one of the most important items that you’ll wear during the race. It is used to track your running time. The tracker in the bib is recorded by race mats, which are placed at certain distances in the racecourse. So, every time you cross these mats, at each point, the time is recorded.

It’s worth noting that there may be some races where a separate race bib and timing chip are used.

Line-Up Etiquette

Race etiquette dictates that the faster runners line up at the front and slower runners or walkers line up at the rear. Most race starts are seeded, with the faster runners positioned at the front of the field to ensure a safer and smoother start for all. Be sure to show up at least 10 minutes before your start time.

Drink Stations

Approach with caution! Drink stations can be messy so watch your step to avoid slipping. To avoid taking a bath in Gatorade or water, try picking up your cup with a hooked finger inside the rim. After picking up your beverage, don’t stand in front of the drink station to hydrate; instead, move to the side to avoid other runners or simply continue along the race path with your drink.

Finish Line Formality

It’s going to be difficult based on the exhaustion you may feel crossing the finishing line, but you must keep moving! Avoid a jam and make room for the other runners behind you.


You may have heard tales of blisters the size of dimes from marathon runners, but there are a few more serious physical discomforts you will want to try and avoid while training and on race day:

Hitting the wall 

“Hitting the wall” happens when your body runs out of glycogen, which is energy stored in your muscles and liver. It makes you feel like you’re crawling, battling your mind over your body. It happens to the most seasoned runners. American record holder in the marathon Emily Sisson hit the wall around mile 20 of her first marathon in 2013 and had to walk most of her last six miles. Making sure you properly train can help prevent this discomfort.

Marathon runners are also encouraged to fuel muscles during the race with 4-8 ounces of a sports drink with electrolytes every 15 minutes, and/or an energy gel or chew every 30-45 minutes to keep glucose moving through the body and avoid hitting the wall.


Dehydration can be just as dangerous as hitting the wall, so combining your fluid intake with your sport drinks or gels and taking one to two cups of water or sports drink at every aid station along the course is a good idea. You can also support your training and recovery with BCAA Lemonade with key minerals to support electrolyte balance.


Long-distance runners and joggers will tell you wearing the right clothing during your long-distance runs is essential. Yes, chafing and discomfort can occur. Test out your shorts, sports bra, t-shirt and/or tank top before race day and opt for using Vaseline, a runner’s glide, or anti-chafing stick on certain areas to help protect your skin.

Don’t wear new running clothes or shoes on race day. By wearing running gear you’re familiar with and have tested, you’ll avoid any potential sore spots and have one less thing to worry about.


Now that you know what to expect and how to avoid common discomforts while running your first 5K or marathon race, it’s time to learn how to build your stamina and endurance with our training tips.

If you’d prefer a more one-on-one approach to getting started, consider signing up for a Personal Trainer who can help you go from couch to 5K or develop a run training program to help you crush your first marathon. To get started, visit an EōS Fitness near you.

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