"Morning of" Marathon Tips (and a few for those who are inspired to run their first!)

Thank you to WBAL for having me on this morning! Hopefully, you caught the segment, but if you missed it, here are my Top Tips from this morning's show.

Here you are, it's your first marathon and race morning has arrived! Check out these six tips for a successful and enjoyable race:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Register for shorter races leading up to the marathon – 5k, 10k – this will simulate race day and get you into “race mode”
  5. 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.
  6. 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 

Marathon Tips

Recently, I was both flattered and honored, when the NBC affiliate in Baltimore invited me to do two on-air segments during the Baltimore Marathon this Saturday, October 15th.  The segments, airing live from the start line at 6:15am and another later in the hour, will focus on last-minute race tips for those runners competing in the marathon, as well as training tips for those on-hand who might just be inspired to start their own training regiment. Now in its 11th year, the Baltimore Marathon has seen a lot of changes over the last decade: from the course, to the sponsors, to the competitors. Despite all of these changes and evolutionary improvements, what has always remained constant is that this rolling 26-mile course features many of Baltimore's iconic neighborhoods from the Inner Harbor, to Druid Hill, to Butcher Hill, to a finish line area between M&T and Camden Yards.

Amidst these changes, tweeks, and improvements that take place each year, none were more significant and impactful to the long-term stability of the race, than the entry of Baltimore-based apparel company, Under Armour, as title sponsor of the race in 2003. Under Armour entered the sports industry in 1996 behind the ground-breaking introduction of shirts made of wicking, breathable compression materials to be worn under football pads, in lieu of the heavier, denser cotton t-shirts worn by players for generations. The vision of company founder, Kevin Plank, has expanded and extended from football, to baseball, to basketball, to track and field and in the last three years, into the running market. As the brand continued to expand, and with the growth of their running and triathlon divisions, it was only logical that they would step in and take over naming rights of their hometown marathon.

With help from sponsors like Under Armour, the Baltimore Marathon is also leading the way in terms of "green racing."  In an effort to preserve our environment and keep the Baltimore neighborhoods beautiful, a number of measures will be put in place, including: cardboard trash cans for compost, waste and recycling will be placed along the course.  Leftover food will be donated to the Maryland Food Bank and clothes discarded along the course will be taken to the Salvation Army.  In addition, the Runners Village and Celebration Village will be powered by renewable biodiesel and runners have the option to purchase carbon credits through Native Energy to offset their travel and lodging.  Oh, and the race shirt? It is made from 100% recycled materials. Thank you Under Armour!

On top of the $5 million that the Baltimore Running Festival has donated to charity in the last 11 years, it has also provided the city of Baltimore with an estimated $90 million in revenue.  This year, Under Armour added a fun component called Sneaker Week, where area residents can pay $1 and in exchange, wear their sneakers to work, in an effort to stomp out breast cancer.  Today is the last day, but for more information, check out their website.

As a life-long athlete, I find this time of year to be both exciting and motivating. As the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn, we get into what's called the 'Fall Marathon Season.' From the Chicago Marathon in early October, to the Baltimore Marathon this weekend, to the Marine Corps Marathon on the last weekend in October, to the fabled New York City Marathon in the first weekend of November, there is no shortage of opportunities and reasons for each of us to get out and be active during these fitness-friendly months in the Mid-Atlantic region.

So whether you're a fitness afficianado, a marathon maniac, an  Ironman triathlete like me, or a first time fitness participant, the Baltimore Running Festival has something to offer for everyone and I have tips and hints that I'll be sharing on live television, that will be helpful for all levels of participants.

So if you're in Baltimore tomorrow morning, tune in to WBAL, channel 21, at 6:15am to hear my tips live from the start line. Not in Baltimore? Make sure you come back Genuine Joy, where I will upload the link later that morning. As always, you can Tweet questions or comments to me via @hilaryphelps

If I don't see you tomorrow morning, I'll look forward to seeing you on the road, or right back here at hilaryphelps.com!