Top Ten Marathon Tips
by Mike Stapenhurst
These tips focus on the days just before the marathon as well as race day itself. I’m assuming that you are in good health with no recent injuries. If this is not the case you might seriously consider withdrawing from the marathon, or at least running at a much slower pace than you intended initially.
1. Keep hydrated:
Not just during the race; try drinking the proverbial 8 cups of water per day for the entire week before the marathon. This way your body gets used to the extra fluid.
2. Check your shoes:
They should be in good condition, and it’s almost too late now for a new pair. Don’t try and use new shoes for running the marathon. You should have broken them in with at least one long run.
3. Eat your big pasta meal two days before the race:
Don’t try and carbo’ (over)load the night before the race. You could end up with an upset stomach the next morning. Instead have a fairly modest meal – sure enjoy a pasta dish, just don’t overdo it. In fact I recommend not doing anything too much out of the normal for the whole week before the race.
4. Relax the day before:
Try taking things real easy. Don’t spend hours on your feet at the pre-race expo – you’ll feel it the next day. A hot bath with Epsom salts can be really relaxing and beneficial.
5. Pace yourself correctly:
This is probably the most important factor that determines your performance.
Take into account the weather, the course terrain and how you feel. I firmly believe it’s better to start out a little slower than your goal pace. Adjust your pace depending on how you feel, if you’re struggling at the halfway point you’d better pull back.
6. If the weather is bad – adjust your finish time:
Bad weather is one of the main things that can really impact your run. It’s better to accept this fact and aim for a slightly slower time rather than run out of energy and hit the wall at mile 20. Who knows, you might have a great run in spite of the weather, in which case you can pick up the pace in the latter stages of the race.
7. Be careful with power gels and energy replacement products:
Don’t take energy gels or even Gatorade if you haven’t done so during training. Your stomach can become upset very easily as you get into the later miles. Hopefully you will have experimented with different energy drinks and so forth during your training runs. I have found a simple slice or two of orange around mile 21 has helped me a lot.
8. Mentally divide the race into sections: - The Most Important
26.2 miles is a very long way! I always divide the race up into different segments. 10K, 10 miles, halfway, and 20 miles. Then as your reach one goal you aim for the next. This gives you something to focus on besides the finish line.
9. Try walking:
Brief walking breaks periodically will give your legs a change from the constant running stride. This will help the muscles avoid tightening up too much in the later stages. You won’t add a whole lot to your finish time either!
10. Walk around after the marathon:
You probably won’t feel like doing this but it will help you gradually cool down. As a result you’ll recover faster in the days following the race.
Have a great race!