Marathon Tips - From Start to Finish

Incorporate these marathon tips right from the planning stages through to the training and running of your next marathon to make it the awesome experience that it should be! Whether you are a newly crowned marathon rookie and you’re looking to improve your next performance, or simply thinking about taking first aim at the marathon distance, these tips were written to help you reach your running goals.

Marathon Tips for Months Before

Be realistic with your goals – With all of the dedication and sweat that goes into the many months of training for a marathon , it’s a real shame to see runners cross the finish line disappointed after having run what they can’t see as a great effort. It’s so important that your goals are challenging but realistic. For example, if your first marathon was 4:30, it’s going to take some time and consistent training to shave 30 minutes off of your next run so expecting to run 3:30 4 months later is probably not realistic. Don’t rob yourself of the well deserved gratification of personal achievement. For an easy way to determine realistic goals based on your other race performances, check out the chart located on the smart goal setting page.

Give yourself ample training time –The marathon is an event relies primarily on your endurance. Building endurance in your body takes time and patience. While it’s possible to prepare adequately for a marathon in 12 weeks time, for more important or aggressive goals you should select a well balanced marathon training program that requires 18 weeks or even a few more for proper adaptation, growth and taper.

Marathon Tips for Weeks Before the Run

Respect the Taper – after completing so many days and weeks of continuous training, marathon day approaches. 2 to 3 week before the marathon is a time to bring your running mileage or, quantity, down while maintaining your running quality. In other words, you don’t run slower, but you run less than your body has been built up and adapted to. This will ensure that you stay sharp while giving you a chance to be completely recovered, feeling strong and raring to go marathon day. From experience, the taper can be one of the most challenging periods of your program mentally, as you need to trust that you are getting stronger with the perception of doing less!

Develop a race day plan – A good plan should include your individual km or mile splits, as well as milestone splits. It may seem like O.C.D. to map out a race plan in great detail, but taking the time to think through how you will execute all 42 plus kms is a very healthy way to visualize reaching your goal. It will also give you something to occupy your mind during the sensory overload that can take place after the gun goes off.

Marathon Tips for Days Before the Run

Rehearse your plan – Memorize splits...what’s your time at 5, 10k, halfway, 20 miles? This helps you to visualize your effort and is a great way to calm your nerves!

These next two marathon tips go hand in hand...

Get lots of sleep – As you may already know from your first marathon or from other races, a good nights sleep the night before the run can be easily out of reach. You can minimize the impact of little sleep the night before by relaxing and getting several good nights of sleep in the week leading up to the marathon.

Organize your gear – Make your life as easy as possible for marathon morning. Set your alarm and back up alarm. Take the handful of minutes that it takes to attach your chip, lay out your shoes, socks, shorts, shirt, bib, pins, grease and morning fuel. The mental clarity of being prepared logistically is invaluable and is a big contributing factor to getting a good nights sleep (see above)!

Marathon Day Tips

Stick with familiar – The last thing you need on marathon day, is unexpected distraction and worse, rash pain and/or nausea caused by the use of new running gear or food. Eat and wear everything you expect to on marathon day during the many weeks of your training program. Don’t over-hydrate – Water consumption is always important but it’s particularly important during your recovery taper period leading right up to marathon morning. Upon waking marathon morning, be careful not to overdo your water intake. Drink until you are peeing clear, and stop drinking about 30 minutes before you start. Otherwise you risk starting your run with a bloated stomach, you’ll have to pee every 10 minutes somewhere on the course and possibly worse, set yourself up for a sodium imbalance and the dangers that come with that (see hyponatremia ).

Run YOUR plan – This is probably the most important of all the marathon tips. It’s a natural phenomenon to see the number of runners who lose their mind when the gun goes off and throw away months of hard training. In marathons, SO much hinges on how disciplined you are with your pace during the first 2 to 3 miles. Focus on yourself and your plan. Early in the run, ignore what is going on around you to the best of your ability. Your only care when the gun goes off should be running the first mile in a completely controlled fashion.

Savour the finish – No matter what transpires that day, it’s important to recognize that you had the dedication to train and courage to tackle the distance. There is always something to learn from every marathon experience. Enjoy your achievement and try not to look forward too quickly to your next one. Before you know it, you'll blink and be crossing the finish line of your 25th marathon.

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