14 last-minute tips for running the L.A. Marathon

Congratulations! You've done the months of training, assembled the proper gear and are ready to crush Sunday's L.A. Marathon, and its 26.2-mile “Stadium to the Sea” route.

Now don't screw it up in the last days.

Here are my essential tips for what to do — and not do — in the hours before the big race:

1. Don't try anything new. Use only clothes and food that you've used on a long training run.

2. Get your gear laid out before you go to sleep the night before the run. I like to put everything in order of how I'll put it on in the morning. Attach your bib to your shirt. Socks in shoes. Sunglasses in hat. Don't forget sunscreen and lip balm.

3. Racing with music coming through earbuds is not my thing. I love the sounds of the spectators and the live music and the other runners. But if you rely on tunes, charge up your player.

4. Same for the GPS watch.

5. Set your alarm clock . . . earlier is better. Then set another alarm (on your phone) and put it across the room. If you have a third alarm, set that. If you have any questions about how many alarms to set, Google "Seinfeld marathon alarm."

6. Try to get to sleep early. But don't worry if you don't sleep well. I never do the night before a marathon. It doesn't matter. You can sleep all you want afterward.

7. Getting to the start line: Whether you’re getting dropped off at Dodger Stadium, a plan I endorse, or parking in Santa Monica and taking the shuttle to the start, allow lots of time for traffic. It’s L.A.!

8. Those marathon folks asking to take your picture before you've even found the port-a-potties might seem annoying, but pause and pose. You'll be able to purchase those photos online, and you might cherish them.

9. Get in a port-a-potty line early! Trust me on this.

10. Hydration, before and during the race, is super important. Start drinking water as soon as you're awake, every 30 minutes or so, just a few sips. During the race, take water (and/or sports drink) at every aid station, just a few sips.

11. Look for shade along the course, and run in it. Every little bit of coolness helps.

12. Before the race, pick a spot to meet friends and family after the race.

13. After the race, people will see your medal and congratulate you. Smile at them, even if your hamstrings are killing you. You ran a marathon, and nobody can take it away from you!

14. Get a massage. You earned it.

The author, who lives in Moorpark, has completed 30 marathons, including four L.A. Marathons, and he’s training to run his 10th Boston Marathon next month.

Health@latimes.com

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