Marathon Top 10 Tips for Preparing and Running a Marathon
If you’re running a marathon this year but you’re not sure if you’re fully prepared or just want to brush up on your race day strategy, then these top 10 tips will surely put your mind at ease and ensure you’re ready to battle out each and every mile on race day.
Preparing – the lead up:
1. It sounds simple, but it’s really important. Invest in some good running shoes. Having the right runners can help prevent injury and minimize marathon day issues such as blisters. So find the right runners and break them in prior to a race. As who wants to deal with blistered covered feet while running 26 miles straight? Not me!
2. Picture this – you’re in your 5th mile of the run, you’re sweaty, thirsty and starting to ache when all of a sudden you begin to chafe – nightmare! Chafing, clothing rubbing on your skin, is so common in long distance runs. If you’ve had it before you will know what I am talking about, the pain is shocking. Prior to a run generously apply a lubricant, such as petroleum jelly, to anywhere that clothing may rub such as feet, thighs, bra lines, nipples (for men) and underarms.
3. Schedule… It’s important to create a specific running schedule and stick to it. I’d suggest gradually increasing the distance of your runs each time you complete a training session, up to about 18 miles as a maximum, to ensure you are building up to the big one without over-training. This gradual build up will help minimize injury and help build your stamina.
4. Catching those all-important ‘z’s’. Sleep is a crucial aspect of training as it enables the body and muscles to repair themselves. 8 hours would be ideal, but sometimes unachievable, just do your best to get to bed as early as possible. I’m sure you’ll be running to bed with all the training you’re putting in!
5. Respect your rest. Training for a marathon is a demanding and challenging task for you and your body. Make sure you incorporate that all-important rest day. Meaning – reward yourself with one day of rest a week with absolutely no training or exercise sessions. This day of rest will enable your body to heal and recover, ultimately ensuring you won’t burn out – so you can run another day. Mark my word – you would have earned it.
Running – race day:
6. Don’t do anything new. It’s really important not to shock your body with anything new on race day, this means no new drinks, food, clothing or anything else you haven’t previously done on a training day. Race day is the time to stick with your routines or you may end up regretting it mid-way through the race.
7. Eat! Don’t even think of skipping or replacing that all-important meal at the beginning of the day with a coffee or energy drink. Ensure you eat a high-carb breakfast otherwise you will burn out during the race. Banana on toast is a great option.
8. Watch what you wear. Don’t dress for fashion or for early morning weather, dress wisely! Marathons generally begin in the morning when the temperature is low, so it’s easy to overdress for this cooler part of the day, well – don’t! Once you get running your body temperature will naturally rise and as the day progresses the early morning chill will likely disperse and the temperature will likely rise. Apart from being overheated, you don’t want to be carrying the extra weight from layers of clothing. So dress smart in comfortable, lightweight and breathable sports gear.
9. Try not to over-exert yourself in the first five minutes of the race; lots of racers excitedly rush off the starting line to get ahead of the pack, this is a big no-no! Speeding off will only cause you to burn out quickly. Instead, run at an even steady pace, almost as if you’re slightly holding back. If you do this, at around mile 5 you will notice that you will begin to pass weary runners, feeling strong and confident.
10. It sounds simple, but it’s so important – stay hydrated! Ensure you drink water and/or a sports drink prior to racing and take advantage of the drinks being passed around at the drinks stations during the race. Trust us – take a few seconds to have a drink, if not you will become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to painful cramps, impaired performance or worse – you could hit the wall.
Whether you’re a marathon virgin or junkie, ensure you carefully prepare and train, listen to your body’s needs on race day and have fun – after all a marathon should be about taking part and having a good time. Finally, good luck to anyone running a marathon, we’ll have our fingers crossed for good weather!