Running a marathon is one of those challenges that many people strive to attain at least once in their lifetime. I firmly believe anyone can train to run a marathon successfully. However, after running several marathons myself I think there are a few key tips that will greatly increase your chances of running one successfully.
Tip #1 – Pick An Easy Course
26.2 miles is going to be a hard enough challenge on it’s own. Unless you truly are a real glutton for punishment, try to pick a course that’s pretty flat and avoid courses with hills as much as possible Also, courses known for being scenic or have some kind of entertainment can be helpful for distracting you along the way.
Tip #2 – Give Yourself 4-6 Months of Training
Think about whether you can focus on a goal for that long. Do you for-see any upcoming life changes that may happen while you are in the midst of training? I’ve learned from experience that it is really hard to keep focus on the end goal (running a decent marathon) when the family is in the process of moving, or job changes! You can do it, but you might face an added challenge in training.
Tip #3 – Hydrate Well Before the Race
In training and before the big race day be sure to hydrate well. A practical way to monitor this is that your urine should be pale or clear in color, not dark. Running feels better if you’re well hydrated and you’ll probably have less problems like cramping, etc.
Tip #4 – Avoid Wearing Brand New Clothing
On the day of your marathon, don’t wear new clothes, new shoes, new socks, etc. that you haven’t already broken in or tried out in training. You are risking possible chafing which you want to avoid when you are going to be running a long distance.
Tip #5 – Beware of Eating Too Many Carbohydrates
Don’t overdo it on the carbo-loading the day before your marathon. Just because you’re going to be running a crazy distance the next day doesn’t mean you need to stuff yourself the night before. Doing so could make you have more bathroom stops than you would otherwise want during your run. Believe me, that’s no fun!
Tip #6 – Have a Proper Eating Strategy
Make sure you eat breakfast before the marathon and plenty of water or whatever you had before your long training runs. If possible eat what worked for you before when you ran your long runs. If you’re traveling, pack your favorite breakfast or find a store where you can get your breakfast of choice. Your goal is to eat breakfast 2-3 hours before the marathon starts.
Also, avoid trying new foods the night before the marathon. Try to eat what worked for you during training (the night before your long runs). Otherwise you could risk an upset stomach.
Tip #7 – Focus on Your Goal
Think about what your goal is for running or walking your marathon. Hopefully, your primary goal is to have a good time and cross the finish line. If you have a time goal, try to be flexible with it and yourself. The marathon is such a learning experience!
Tip #8 – Don’t Suffer Needlessly
Did you chafe at all during training? Have you tried Vaseline or BodyGlide on the areas where you have chafed? If you notice a problem like this while running there are more than likely products that can help. Figure out what works before your marathon as you don’t need any additional things causing you pain while you’re running.
Tip #9 – Consider Taking Painkillers
Aspirin or Ibuprofen can work wonders to help alleviate pain and soreness. Some runners will take those before the marathon starts. They will also keep some extra in their pocket for along the way to help keep the pain at bay.
Tip #10 – Know Why You’re Running the Marathon
Before you sign up for that marathon and start training for it, here are some questions to keep in mind. What is your motivation for running this marathon? Why on earth do you want to train to run this crazy distance? It’ll help you to think about this when you are in the depths of training and looking forward to being done or when you are working your way through that marathon course and seeking out that finish line. What made you set this apart as your goal?