Keeping yourself safe during your marathon does not have to be big ordeal. Being safe will allow you to enjoy your run and worry less, and can make sure that you get yourself through the finish line. Very few of the safety measures that you can take will actually require any thought during your race; most of these things can be taken care of well in advance.
That being said, here are 9 ways that you can stay safe during your marathon:
- Get in shape: If you train adequately for your marathon before your race, you will be less likely to hurt yourself. The best way to be safe on race day is to have a level of fitness that will allow you to keep your head throughout the entire race. Getting in plenty of mileage over the preceding months and letting your body gradually know that you are going to be expecting longer and longer runs out of it can go a long way towards making sure that you do not get hurt.
- Fuel yourself properly: Do not starve yourself or dehydrate yourself before the race. The fuel that you have available in your body needs attention up to a week in advance of the race. Try not to skip meals, be sure to get plenty of sleep, and drink a lot of water. If you are not fueled properly, then you will become weak and distracted at the end of your race and might do something inadvisable.
- Tell somebody you are running: Have friends or family at the race to run with you or to cheer you on. If you are at the race by yourself, tell somebody that you are running it. If something does happen, then there will be at least one person with an idea of where you were supposed to be.
- Know the race course: Try not to get lost during the race. At some of the smaller marathons, a wrong turn could leave you well off the course and away from any protection that the mob in the race would provide. If you know where you are going, you are less likely to miss a race marker or pass the wrong way through a poorly marked intersection.
- Wear your race bib: If you are wearing your race bib during the race, the race officials will know that you are taking part and will help to make sure that you get to the finish line. If something does happen to you, they will be able to find out who you are.
- Carry emergency contact info: Write emergency contact info on your race bib. I will usually include an ICOE with my wife’s phone number or the phone number of a friend or family member that is in town. I wear a Road ID dog tag most days and any time that I am working out. It is one of the most recognizable forms of identification, is not likely to get lost, and if hurt my head or am unconscious it will tell emergency workers who I am, where I am from, who to contact, and my blood type and known allergies.
- Dress appropriately: Try to match what you race in to the weather that you are likely to encounter. Do not go to a race in a snow storm with a pair only a pair of shorts and a singlet. Try not to have pants and long sleeves as your only alternative to a 100� race with 70% humidity. If you have cheap clothes that you do not mind losing, then you can discard clothing at the starting line or as you go when you decide that you do not need it anymore. Make sure that you have a lot of options. Bear in mind that you will probably need more clothing at the starting line than you will during the race. Heat stroke and hypothermia can put a real damper on your race.
- Watch for other runners: During your race, pay attention to the runners around you. Try not to change directions suddenly and cut people off. Watch out for runners in front of you who might change direction without warning. Avoid collisions. Make sure that you keep your elbows to yourself. Minor bumps and bruises are not a very big deal, but locking legs or a tumble can easily lead to a DNF.
- Watch for vehicles: During your race, keep an eye out for cars. If the course is not closed, you may have traffic coming up from behind you or towards you. There could be traffic at cross streets that might not see you as they turn or cross the marathon course. Even on a closed course, you could get somebody exiting their driveway or an emergency vehicle that needs to get through. Stay aware of your surroundings and remember that even if you have the right of way, you weigh a lot less. If somebody is coming up on a bicycle, they will not be as noisy as a car, but can hurt you just as much.