10 Tips For Running A Marathon
Since I have some personal experience regarding marathons, I prepared a list of 10 tips for running a marathon. I consider that these are the most import aspects that you should have in mind, when considering the challenge of participating in a 42.19 km race. Moreover, these 10 tips for running a marathon can make the difference whether you will finish the race or not.
1. Motivation and focus
First and foremost, you need to stay focused on your objective (whichever that would be: finish the marathon, finish under 4 hours, under 3 hours). Motivation is the most important driver that can lead you to the finish line. The marathon is an endurance race and many unexpected things may shatter your resolve. However, you must remain motivated and continue the race. I can tell from my own experience that my objective for the first marathon was to finish somewhere between 3:30 – 4 hours. Unfortunately, the barrier hit after 32 km and I motivated myself to reach the finish line no matter what.
2. Select a comfortable pair of shoes
The second point on my list of 10 tips for running a marathon is the selection of shoes. The feet are you engine and you must take care of them. So select a pair of running shoes that you have felt comfortable during the training. Do not use a brand new pair of shoes during the marathon, otherwise you might finish with a lot of blisters or you will not fill good at all during the run.
3. Do not mix up drinks
Do not try new isotonic drinks during the 42 km race or to mix them with water. Stick either to water or to isotonic drinks, because if you mix them you will have terrible stomach pains. If you tested a drink during the training bring it with you during the race (give it to the stewards before the start to be placed on the hydration points). For instance, I mixed up water with AA Drink during my first marathon and I was in terrible pain after 27 kms (my bowels felt like a 1 tone safe box).
4. Find out the course
A very important aspect on my list of 10 tips for running a marathon is to know the race course. Every marathon competition has a map published on their website. Devote some time and study this map and try to remember where are the hills and where are the flat zones, so that you are not surprised. Knowing the marathon map will help you prepare a race plan.
5. Relax and enjoy the race
Running 42 km is quite a huge milestone so take the run like a walk in the nature (or in the city:D). If you run in a different city than your hometown, then you have to possibility to “visit” while running. You need to be relaxed and enjoy the run because if you are in a good mood the whole body will react better to this effort. You are not a professional athlete and you are running for yourself, to complete a personal achievement. No one will criticize you because you did not break the world record, or you did not finish in the first 50. So, that is why you find in my list of tips for running a marathon this advice: relax and enjoy!
6. Run for the finish
As I have already mentioned in my list of 10 tips for running a marathon, it is very important to stay focused and motivated during the race. Well, I believe that first of all you should run for the finish instead of running for the time. If you are relaxed and motivated to finish (without being stressed of crossing the line under 3 hours/4 hours) you have more chances to set some personal bests. Each and every marathon race is different (different courses, you are in different moods, you might more tired than usual), so you can not always improve you time. I strongly believe that this is one the most important tips for running a marathon.
7. Run at your own pace
My list of 10 tips for running a marathon continues with the reminder that you need to run at your usual training pace. Do not be fooled by others’ pace! If they run faster than you they might better runners, or they have a different race, or they just want to show off at the start. Stay relaxed and run at you normal pace. You will catch them on the course! If you run at a faster pace you will not be able to sustain the rhythm after 30 km. Your body is used to run at a certain pace, so keep it that way during the race!
8. Rest before the marathon
One of the most important tips for running a marathon is to have a good rest period before the race. Try to sleep at least 8 hours/night during the week of the marathon.
9. Watch out what you eat before the marathon
The day of the marathon is quite stressful and full of emotions. It is important to eat something before the race, even if you feel that you can not. Try eating something soft, without fat so that you can “feel light” while you run. I usually eat a banana and an Isostar Long Energy Bar 1 hour before the race.
10. Hydrate yourself very well
My final point on the list of tips for running a marathon is to hydrate yourself very well before and during the race. I usually drink at least 1.5 liter of water before the race. Try to drink something at every 2.5 km. It will maintain you in a good shape and prevent occurrence of extreme fatigue and dehydration.
Those were my 10 tips for running a marathon! I wish you good luck in all the races that you will participate and do not forget: ENJOY and RELAX! Enjoy the cheers that you hear at the finish line because if you completed a marathon you are a real hero!