Q & A: How to Prepare for an International Endurance Race

mario fraioli | senior editor competitor magazineRunning a marathon or half marathon is no easy feat, but running one overseas is even more of an exciting challenge.

This weekend I'll be running in the Rock 'n' Roll Lisbon marathon (my first marathon!) and if you're anything like me, the only thing you want to focus on will be crossing the finish line. I caught up with Mario Fraioli, senior editor of Competitor Magazine and author of The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide to Marathon & Half-Marathon Training to get the skinny on how to prep for an international race. Check out what he had to say!


1. What essentials do I need to pack for race day?
Make sure you've got your race number, timing chip, shoes, socks, race shirt, shorts, and whatever other essential accessories you need in your race day pack. Also, make sure you've got any and all nutrition you plan to take with you during the race. Lastly, put a dry shirt or sweatshirt and clean pants into your checked bag so you have something to change into after the race.

2. If I am flying, what's the best way to bring my nutrition with me without getting stopped at customs?
In most cases it shouldn't be an issue to take nutrition with you in your carry-on, but if you run into trouble, seek out running specialty stores in close proximity to where you're staying. Also, the race expo the day or two before the race should have everything you need. Lastly, know what they will offer on course - and where it will be - so you can plan ahead.

3. Should I look at the racecourse ahead of time and how do I prepare for a course I've never seen before?
Yes. Know what you're in for in terms or terrain and turns. If you have a chance, drive or run parts of the course in the days before the race, or watch a video (if offered) at the expo the day before the race. Knowing the terrain beforehand can be useful as you can try to simulate the course conditions in practice runs in the weeks before the race.

4. Do you have any tips for adjusting to a time change in a short amount of time?
It depends on how far you're traveling and how soon before the race you arrive in the host city. The best advice I can give is to try and get on your normal routine as quickly as possible after arriving. Napping is necessary, but not at the expense of compromising a good night's sleep.

5. Should I pack "extra" of anything for race day?
Pack your essentials in your carry-on so you ensure that they make it to the race with you. Plan ahead for weather. If there's a chance of cold or warm temperatures or some form of precipitation, better to have that with you than wish you hadn't left it at home.

6. What if I want to explore my destination before a race?
While it may be tempting to explore a new city, try and stay off your feet as much as possible in the day or two before the race so your legs can rest and be fresh for the start. This doesn't mean stay holed up in your hotel room, but you don't want to be out walking for 3 hours or more, either. Going for a walk the day(s) after the race can be a good way to kickstart the recovery process while also getting in some sightseeing.