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Preparing for Your First Overseas Marathon

Feeling anxious about your first overseas race? Here we detail down good practices you may wish to consider ahead of your first big international race


So you have just signed up for an international marathon or half-marathon, but it's your first time running overseas and you're not quite sure what to expect or how to prepare yourself for it.

If you are still looking for a first good overseas marathon to begin your international race circuit running experience, we would highly recommend you start with the Gold Coast Marathon.

Here we share with you some good practices to help you through that anxiety and possible complications that may come with entering an overseas race.


Set a Goal / Objective

Are you an elite athlete or a social runner? Whichever category you belong in, be clear about your goals and what you are hoping to get out of the race. Is this a key race in your season, or are you just joining the race as part of preparations towards a bigger objective?

Having clarity about your goals for the marathon or half marathon will keep you focused on how you plan to execute the race. Either way, we recommend that you properly train for your race.


Benefits of a Structured Training Block

While some social runners prefer watching YouTube videos or googling self-help articles and videos, we recommend having a proper structured training block of at least 12 weeks before the race to prepare yourself for your overseas marathon. The benefits of a structured training block or program include but are not limited to adequate rest, spacing, pacing, training load (appropriate loading), accountability and enjoyment.

Finding a certified coach who can guide you along your trainings would be a huge bonus, particularly if you are looking to achieve a specific target timing. I have personally witnessed the benefits of training under a coach - Melvin Wong.

It's one thing to know the basic type of runs or training principles, it's another to have someone experienced watch over you and monitor your progress, as well as your training load and the amount of rest you are getting. This will ensure you do not over train as well.

Accountability and Discipline

Just as you should not over train, discipline is also needed to ensure you keep to your training program. While motivation can get you started, it doesn't get you across the finish line. It is self-discipline that helps you get to where you want.

If keeping to the program alone is proving to be a tough ask, consider finding yourself some training buddies to hold you accountable for your sessions.



While eating clean and going on an extremely healthy diet is not a must, we have seen those who chose to eat cleaner experience the benefits of doing so.

A balanced training diet for marathon preparation should comprise sufficient amounts of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats), lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.

Macronutrients are sources of energy for the body, but the body prefers to rely on carbohydrates and fats.

Rest and Recovery

Many runners forget that recovery is an important part of the training program. Not having sufficient amounts of rest will actually affect performance. Good recovery is needed as our muscles are developed in their 'repair phase', when you're resting and refueling.



Book Accommodation and Air Tickets Early

Prices tend to rise pretty quickly closer to the date of international marathons. As such, it would be wise once you have confirmed your participation in a particular race, to book your hotel and air tickets at the earliest instance in order to keep your trip affordable.

Have a Standard Packing List

What's the difference between packing for a regular holiday and packing for an overseas marathon? We would say you would prioritise your running essentials in the latter, while not compromising much on your original travel packing list.

This would mean bringing more than one pair of running shoes and running gears, and also ensuring that you have the necessary visas applied for, along with all other travel documents that are necessary for entry into that particular country.

Bring Your Race Necessities in a Carry-On

We have heard more than once about runners losing their items or key race day essentials after packing them in their luggage only to have it lost in transit.

To put your mind at ease and to avoid unnecessary stress, we recommend that you carry on your race shoes as well as your key race items instead of packing them into your check-in luggage.

If you are in the midst of considering which running shoes are best for you for race day? We recommend you read our running shoe reviews or watch our on going shoe review series "Sole Mates".


Avoid New Foods You are Unfamiliar with

When traveling to an overseas marathon or half marathon, avoid eating foods you aren't familiar with as these may cause stomach upsets. If necessary, pack foods that are tried and trusted that you know won't give you any problems.

Same thing applies to your gels and race day supplements. You should never try a new item on race day itself, go with what you have tested before and know works for you.

Acclimatise Yourself

Whether you are traveling from a tropical part of the world to a cold weather country or vice versa, it is good to arrive a few days earlier and clock in some easy miles just to get used to the weather and climate of your race.

Have an Early Night

Avoid having a late night or packing too many sightseeing activities before your race. If you would really love to sight-see, save them for after your race, as you will have plenty of time to do so then. Having an early night ensures that you are both physically and mentally prepared for race day, and gives you some allowance should there be last minute contingencies that may be needed before the race.


Keep Warm in Cold Weather

If you are running in a climate that is totally different to what you are used to, you may wish to consider dressing adequately for whichever conditions you are racing in. In colder climates, keeping warm before you start your race is essential. Apart from doing your necessary dynamic warm-ups to raise your heart rate, consider putting on a poncho or an old sweater you are willing to give away.

These could be tossed aside just before the start of the race, with many international marathons offering to donate these clothing items to charity.

Having attended the Gold Coast Marathon recently, in which we ran in 9 degrees celsius weather for the ASICS Half-Marathon, I've quickly come to learn that there are some cold weather essentials such as arm sleeves and gloves that I would definitely want to include for my race day essentials.

Apart from these, some runners do prefer to listen to music while they run so having a handy set of ear buds or head sets could prove helpful and useful to hype you up before your marathon.

Have Your Gels Easily Accessible

Having a running belt or bottoms with pockets would be extremely helpful unless you plan to carry your gels in your hand throughout the race. By now, most runners should have prepared their race plans, hydration plan and gel-intake strategy.

You would want to have these in an easily accessible location, to minimise disruption of your running momentum during the race.


Hydration Plan

Most international marathons and half marathons have hydration partners and hydration stations set up along the race route. While it isn't necessary to stop at every single hydration station, knowing when you need to top up your hydration is useful knowledge and could be something that is tested out before you embark on your overseas marathon trip

Enjoy the Race

Last but not the least, remember to enjoy yourself! Too many runners place a huge amount of pressure on themselves to achieve a particular goal or outcome, that they forget to enjoy the process.


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