Here you are, it's your first marathon and race morning has arrived! Check out these six tips for a successful and enjoyable race:
- Warm up: Warm up by doing some light jogging, followed by stretching. You want to get blood flowing to your large muscles in your legs before stretching; you don’t want to stretch a cold muscle.
- Nothing new: You may have picked up some great items at the expo, but make sure you have worn everything you have on your body during training. You don’t want blisters from new socks or shoes, and you don’t want your top to chafe your neck or arms.
- Layering: If it’s chilly in the morning, you’ll want to wear a long-sleeved top and make sure it’s one that you don’t mind parting with, as most runners will toss their top layer as they warm up through the run. Race directors often gather up these items and donate them to a homeless shelter, so don’t feel guilty about shedding the old sweatshirt because others will get great use out of it.
- Nutrition: By race day, you’ll know what works best with your body, which gels you like and which drinks don’t upset your stomach. Make sure you have plenty of nutrition on you, and use the stations for water or bananas. You want to go into race day with plenty of gels or beans on your person that you like. During the race, remember to hydrate. October and November are cooler months, it might not seem as if you are sweating as much as you did during your long training runs, but you will need to ensure proper hydration throughout the entire race. And be consistent with meals as well. If you didn’t drink coffee before your long training runs, don’t drink a cup the morning of the marathon. The same principles apply with dinner the night before. Opt for pasta over Thai or tex mex. Trust me!
- Run the mile you’re in and smile. Don’t think about how good that last mile felt, or worry about how tough mile 23 will be, focus on where you are… it’s a long race and I’ve found that it’s often mind over matter. If you find yourself tiring or getting negative during the race, smile. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your mindset will turnaround.
- Don’t adjust your goals: If you’ve trained to and plan on running 10-minute miles, use the pace groups and stick with them. They are hugely helpful. If you’re feeling great later in the race, by all means, pick up the pace and go for it! However, changing your mind at the start of the race to run with the 8:30 pace group will tire you out early in the day and make it tougher, emotionally and physically.
Inspired and want to run a marathon, but not sure where to begin? Here are six tips to get you started!
- Decide why you want to do a marathon. Is it to complete the race? Qualify for Boston? Keeping this in mind will help you mold your training and will help get you out of bed on the mornings you’re tired.
- Find a plan: Find a regimen, make time to run and stick to the plan. There are options for running groups or find a group of friends with whom you can run.
- The right shoes are paramount: You are pounding on your feet, make sure they are protected and supported. I used to buy shoes based on how they looked, until I realized I was running in cross-training shoes – not good for the body. Visit a store that specializes in running and ask for help. I have high arches and need more support, but wouldn’t have known those were the ones I needed, had I not asked.
- Register for shorter races leading up to the marathon – 5k, 10k – this will simulate race day and get you into “race mode”
- Cross-training: This will save your knees, keep your legs strong and change up workouts to keep you interested. Activities include: riding your bike, yoga, power walking.
- Smile: Remember that you’re doing this for fun. While clearly a tough race, overall, the experience should be enjoyable. When the going gets tough, just smile. It will help you to not take yourself so seriously.
Want to know more? Shoot me an email or sent me a tweet @hilaryphelps