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Running Tips From Marathoners

Since I've ran in a few 5K and 10K races, the ultimate goal of running a marathon has been whispering in my ear. If you've been itching to run 26.2 miles, too, here's some advice from marathoners:

  • Before signing up for a full marathon get a few shorter races under your belt.
  • Train in all kinds of weather — heat, humidity, hail, rain, sleet, and sun. You never know what the weather will be like the day of the race, so you want to be prepared for anything.
  • Don't train the same way every day. Cross train with weight lifting and other types of cardio such as biking to build other muscles and prevent injuries from repetitive motions.
  • Don't run long distances every day. Run short races (3 to 5 miles) a few days in a row, and then run 8 to 10 miles one day. Each day you decide to run your long distance, you can work on building up to 12 miles, 15 miles, and all the way up to 20 miles.
  • Try to complete three 20-mile runs before the marathon. Your last one should be about two weeks before the day of the race. Then ease up on your training and run a few miles a day until the race. This is called tapering off, and it will allow your muscles a chance to fully recover before you run the full 26.2 miles.
  • Stretch after every workout to ease soreness, increase flexibility, and prevent injuries.
  • While training, eat a balanced diet that includes lots of protein, carbs, and iron-rich foods. On the night and morning before the race, eat foods rich in protein and carbs. Eat foods you've eaten before and don't experiment with anything new like power drinks or energy bars.
  • On the day of the race, wear things you've run in before. Now's not the time to try out new socks or a sports bra because it could cause chaffing or blistering. The same goes for running shoes. Break in your new sneaks at least a month or two before.
  • Whether you're training or running in a race, listen to your body. If your knee is screaming in pain, stop running. You could make an injury worse.
  • Keep in mind that running long distances is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. There's only so much training you can do to physically prepare for the race, so on the big day, the most important thing is to keep your mind set on crossing that finish line. Believe that you can do it. Repeat in your mind that you can do it, and you will.
Join The Conversation
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I don't think I could ever run a marathon. I'd be much better at 5ks.
runnergeek runnergeek 9 years
"Try to complete three 20-mile runs before the marathon." depends on your goal. if you are just trying to finish the marathon then no, you prob. don't need to run 3 20 milers. but i've run 4 marathons and i'm running San Diego in June..i have some time goals i've set and i need to run several 18 and 20 milers before race day..
lizadilly lizadilly 9 years
abster3 I totally agree. I've run a few marathons and I only ever do one "capstone run" about 2 weeks before. Unless you're training to be competitive more than that is overkill. My tips for LDRunning: SYNTHETIC SOCKS!
Spectra Spectra 9 years
A lot of it really is mental. I did a marathon and I just got SO bored about halfway through...physically, I was OK but I just was so sick of running that I could just about puke. What I did was kind of make up little games, like guessing what the guy in front of me did for a living, or counting the number of green cars I saw on the nearby roads. Stuff like that. It helped me a lot and pretty soon, I was done! Oh, and the Body Glide suggestion is definitely a good one, but if you can't find it, Vaseline works well too. Also, the night before you run, eat a meal that's high in complex carbs but low in fiber, otherwise you will not enjoy the race at'll be making a dash for the portapotties at every opportunity!
Hilary1076 Hilary1076 9 years
I will be running my first full marathon the end of this month. I have trained with Team in Training since November and feel ready. I was not a runner when I started and I would still consider myself more jogger than runner but I LOVE the high that comes with finishing a long run. The only additional input I would like to add is that if you are out for more than 2hrs at a time you should really ice when you get home. I have found that if I don't I am SO much more sore the day after. By ice I mean sit in a tub of cold water (no warm at all) that covers your legs and then add 2 10lb bags of ice. You MUST remain in the water a minimum of 10 minutes in order for it to do any good and the longer the better. I try my best to remain until the ice is all melted (about 15 to 18 minutes). I wear a hoodie, drink a latte (my treat for completing a long run) and have the heater on full blast. I have found that I actually even look forward to my ice bath - I know crazy! And of course once your done you can stand under a HOT shower for as long as you like or until there is no hot water left! Enjoy and good luck to everyone who is training for an event!
javsmav javsmav 9 years
I also recommend doing some speed workouts (alternate between sprinting & jogging) and tempo runs (faster than marathon pace for a shorter distance than your long runs, maybe 4-8 miles). I would recommend this even if your goal is to just finish rather to finish fast. The slower pace will feel so much easier when you are doing your long runs. And that last part of it is totally mental. It's a lot of hard work, but feels great when you cross the finish line. It IS worth the pain.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
I'm running my first 5K in a month and plan on working up to a marathon. In a couple years. Do a 10K or half marathon next year. A trip from a friend of mine that runs a lot: When you buy shoes, by 2 or 3 pairs. Wear them all, like every day wear a different pair so that you're wearing them down the same. That way you don't have to break in new shoes as often and they last longer. My friend started doing this after having to buy new shoes just a couple weeks before a race because all her training had killed her old ones.
abster3 abster3 9 years
"Try to complete three 20-mile runs before the marathon." This is not a must in marathon training, and I would even say that doing three 20 milers is too many, ESP for a first timer. I ran NYC last year and only did one 18 miler about 3 weeks before, and I was fine on race day. If anything, one is fine.
mdjaeda mdjaeda 9 years
Great tips. Much of the distance really is mental, and the time commitment is significant.
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
Wow lawyerjenn...5 marathons. I tried signing up for the Nike Women's Half Marathon but wasn't selected! :(
syako syako 9 years
I love me some body glide too!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
lawyerjenn great tips.
lawyerjenn lawyerjenn 9 years
I have run 5 marathons. I am not a natural born or a speedy runner. The key to me finishing all of my races is PERSPECTIVE. Recognize that your goal is to finish, not to qualify for Boston, not to beat the girl next to you in the pink shorts. Your goal is to stay healthy and maintain a good pace for the whole race. You go out too fast, you will crash at mile 20. My second recommendation is to invest in Body Glide. I don't chafe until I run for more than 2 hours and then, dear lord, it's awful. Body Glide is a product that you will be so happy you've heard of. Get a buddy. But I always have preached that. You have to be consistent in your training or your body will react strongly on race day to the new distance. AND you are so much more consistent with a buddy. FINALLY, HAVE FUN. Recognize that to meet your goal, you are going to have to probably cut out some foods you enjoy (I can't remember the last time I had a deep fat fried anything :() You are going to sacrifice your saturday mornings. You are going to have sore feet and legs. What makes it worth it? Enjoying the training. Enjoy your new body and muscle. Enjoy your newfound ability to race up 3 flights of stairs and not be winded. ENJOY race day. If you are anything like me, you will tear up everytime you cross a finish line at a marathon. There is no better self-affirmation.
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