Running a marathon overseas is a great way to get in shape and travel the world at the same time.
1. Choose your location wisely.
2. And pick a marathon-friendly Airbnb or hotel.
I stayed in an Airbnb in Tokyo, and it really helped soothe my nerves. Not only do you have a real fridge and microwave (perfect for race-day oatmeal), you also have the overall benefit of feeling more "at home" — something that helps with pre-race jitters. My host in Tokyo, Mac, even recommended a running route nearby for me to "shake out my legs," and left runner-friendly fuel like bananas and sports drinks in the apartment since he knew I was in town to run!
Hotels that are close to the marathon will often offer special services just for marathoners, too. Call them ahead of time to find out what they offer: Many will serve breakfast, coffee, etc. the morning of the race — and many offer buses to the starting line.
3. If you can, recruit friends to travel with you.
4. Get there three days before race day.
5. Especially because you may not poop for a few days.
6. First things first, overpack.
7. Bring your own comfort snacks.
8. And bring multiple power converters, too, so your gear is always fully charged.
9. And don't forget compression gear for the plane ride home.
10. Learn the metric system, so you don't have to do math during the race.
11. Make reservations for your night-before-the-race and night-after-the-race meals.
This pre-race meal is especially important, so don't leave it to chance. Yelp the restaurants in the area, find one with good, solid pre-race food, and then make reservations — the night before a race is usually very busy. Planning your dinner ahead of time will also help soothe your nerves.
The night after the race is your time to go nuts — so book a table at the best place in town! Keep in mind that all of the other runners will be trying to do the same thing, so try to do this in advance.
12. Plan to sightsee a couple days before or after the race.
13. Figure out your post-marathon exit strategy in advance.
14. Make sure you've dealt with your music situation before you start.
15. Get to the expo as early as possible.
16. Soak it all in.
Notice everything—even the cracks in the sidewalk. This is something you'll remember and talk (ok, brag) about for the rest of your life. Enjoy it!
17. Make friends!
18. But also, stand your ground.
19. Consider following a pacer.
20. Take it easy the day after the race.
21. Keep drinking.
Water, that is. Between sitting on a plane to get there and actually running the marathon, staying hydrated is no easy feat—even tougher than it is when you're running a race stateside. Suck down as much H2O as humanly possible post-race. (That goes for pre-race too! And during. Just keep drinking, ok?)
22. Enjoy everything.
Take in as much local food and drinks as you possibly can, especially because it tastes so much better after you've run a bajillion miles. But don't worry if you also crave the comforts of home. For whatever reason, I craved a PSL from Starbucks after my Berlin marathon, and it was the most delicious thing in that moment ever.