The marathon. One of the toughest distances to tackle, yet one of the most self satisfying distances to accomplish. It isn’t easy, but definitely not impossible. I’ve done many and plan to do many more. Call me crazy but the feeling of exhaustion, tired legs, running miles after miles, to then get to the finish line for a little piece of medal and a banana is priceless because it’s so much more than that. It’s the experience, the course, the city, the people, the cheers, the tears, the feeling of accomplishments after months of training. It’s knowing you just did something not many will attempt to do.
So I’m sharing some tips from my personal experience with you since many of you have just started or are about to start marathon training.
TIP 1– First tip, if not the most important tip, is having the correct, and most comfortable pair of socks and shoes! While yes, your mind, body, and soul is what will get you through the 26.2 miles, your feet must be as comfortable as possible. Blisters will stop you from running, among other painful muscle and tendon issues in your feet with improper shoes. And don’t wear new shoes on race day. Just make sure you have some comfortable shoes to get you to the finish line.
TIP 2-Figure out what your goal is going to be. If you want to work towards a certain time, get a PR or just finish up right. Before you start your training make sure you know what it is that you are going to do. That way you have something to work towards. Just remember to be flexible.
TIP 3– Find a good marathon training plan. Most of the marathon races, have training plans for you to use as guides. You have to figure out what level you are at to see what training plans works best for you. Another option you can do is find a training coach. They will be there for you every step of the way. I know 2 GREAT coaches who have helped many reach their goals at the Boston marathon: Run Nerds Rock and Fit Sparrow.
TIP 4– Get some SLEEP! I can’t tell you how important this is. It is necessary for everyone and even more essential to runners. It’s when our muscles are hard at work repairing and healing. So don’t cut your sleep short! Take your naps, go to sleep early, give yourself the rest!!!
TIP 5– When you are going for your longer runs, take your energy drinks, or gels, or whatever it is you plan to use on race day for fuel. During your training is the best time to figure out what fuel works best for you. If you can find out what sports drinks will be on the course, try to use that and see how your stomach does with that. Also, if you don’t like to carry a bottle with you, see how far apart the hydration stops are on the course and leave your electrolyte bottles along your training route. I usually just leave it in my car and measure my miles to where I’d end up back at the car where the hydration stop would be to mimic the course stops.
TIP 6– Add some days off to give your body time to recover. If you like to stay active, then add some cross training days. Go biking, swimming, rowing, anything that isn’t high impact.
TIP 7– Adding some speed work can be beneficial on race day. Doing some speed intervals can train your body to respond properly when its tired. So when you do speed work, it can get tiring, but if you keep going, your body will get used to it. So on race day, when its exhausted, it won’t be so tough to keep pushing. Adding a 5K here and there during training can help as well. Use it as speed work.
TIP 8– I always believed that running is more mental than physical. So you have to train your mind just as much as you train your body. You have to fill your mind with positive thoughts and believe in yourself. On those tough, longer days..have a running mantra in mind. Repeat it over and over and over. Have a different mantra each day and it will help. Write it on your arm!
“I can I will.” – “I am strong enough.” – “I am going to finish.” – “I’ve come this far, I can keep going.” – “The body achieves what the mind believes.”
TIP 9- If you went for a long run and came back with swollen knees or calves, then ice them! Ice will reduce the inflammation and if there is pain. Do an ice bath if you are brave enough. I actually LOVE ice baths and do them after every 15+ miles run. It makes a world of a difference and my muscles thank me. An epsom salt bath couldn’t hurt either 😉
TIP 10– Marathon training starts off slow and low. Don’t rush into it. Have patience and give it time. Even if you have been running already, you don’t want to kick up and then boom, you are injured.
TIP 11- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You lace up, warm up, and head out on the trail. Then suddenly you get an odd pain you’ve never had before. Do me a favor, don’t run through it. It’s like I tell everyone, it’s better to sit out a day or two of training, than weeks or months because you decided to run through the pain. Be smart. don’t do more damage. I run with constant pain, but mine is different. The moment it reaches a certain point, or too much, I won’t go any further. Know your body and listen to its signals.
TIP 12– For those headed for a long run in the morning….go use the bathroom. Make sure you um…poop! If not you will end up with GI trouble along the way and you will have to stop along the trail and do what the bears do, or find a coffee shop and run into their restrooms. Apparently coffee helps speed that process.
TIP 13– Eat he right carbohydrates. It will then turn into energy that you will need to fuel you through the race. So eat a good carb loaded breakfast before your run. Better yet, eat a good carb meal the night before.
TIP 14– It’s Summer and the heat has been unforgiving. So make sure you are dressing the part. Wear lose light-colored clothing. Moisture wicking is excellent but I know, it only does so much. But imagine wearing a cotton t-shirt? Wear a running hat that allows air to flow and not trap heat. Wear sun screen and try running in shady area.
TIP 15– If you are prone to injuries, or have had surgeries or problems in the past, use KT TAPE to prevent it from flaring it. While KT Tape does help easy the pain and swelling and speeds up recovery, it also works as a preventative measure for chronic issues.
TIP 16- If you are lacking motivation, just think about that moment as you approach the finish line chute. Picture yourself running across the finish line and earning that marathon medal. Imagine yourself putting your hands up and smiling as you cross that 26.2 mile marker. That should motivate you to keep going.
TIP 17– Remember to pace yourself. While you are training and on race day. Find the rhythm you want to train at and stay at it. If you want to go hard, then do it towards the end. Start off slow and then go faster towards the end of the race if you are comfortable. You can build on that during your training.
TIP 18– Add some stretching to your post run routine. Your muscles will be working hard and giving them a nice good stretch will release the tension and relax them. Plus it will feel excellent and it will also reduce stiffness.
TIP 19– Marathon training starts months in advance for many reasons. One of them is that life gets in the way. So if you have to miss a training run due to a work event, or you got a cold, or have a child’s party, then it’s OK! Don’t stress it, or be down about. You can switch your training schedule around, or move onto the next day.
TIP 20– Taper. Many runners hate this part, but it is important. It’s the time to get your body ready and up to 100% ready to run the race. Go out for easy runs, and don’t run more than 40% of your weekly mileage. So keep you runs shorts, easy, and low.
TIP 21- Marathon training isn’t like studying for a test. You can’t just cram all your mileage in the last few weeks. You will over work your body and it won’t help you, you can actually end up getting injured. As I said before, you need to give your body, at least a week before the marathon, no long runs so your body is at its best peak to perform at its best.
TIP 22– Study the course and the hydration stops. Especially if you haven’t done it before. It will help you prepare for any change in terrain, turns, and let you figure out how far apart each hydration stop is so you can train for it.
TIP 23– Tell your friends! Even if they aren’t runners, they can help support you and even go cheer for you at the race! What’s better than seeing your friends spectating for you along the course!?!? Talk about an energy boost!
TIP 24– Don’t doubt yourself. Especially you first timers. You can easily have negative thoughts of..”Did I train enough?” “Am I really ready?” “I should’ve gone on that run.” “Did I try hard enough?” The answer is YES! You ARE ready and you ARE going to do it! Don’t doubt yourself and trust your training. Believe me that when you are at the start line and you take off, all those negative thoughts will disappear.
TIP 25– Keep yourself hydrated. Even when the temps start to drop. When you are running, you must keep yourself hydrated while you sweat.
TIP 26– Embrace the moment when it arrives! The marathon is more than just a race, it’s an experience. Embrace it, the good, the bad, and the ugly. You will go through all kinds of emotions but you will be PROUD of yourself for doing so. Signing up in itself takes bravery. So no matter what happens between those 26.2 miles, you are an unbelievable force of nature who just tackled one of the world’s toughest challenges. Congratulations!
TIP .2- DREAMS DO COME TRUE.