Whether you are running your first marathon or half or are a grizzled veteran sticking to these tips can help you find success in your next race!
1. Pick a race that challenges you but is within the realm of what is possible given your time allotted for training and physical condition. I personally think everyone can do much more than they think they can but you must be realistic and I think it’s smart to work your way up to a distance.
2. Ok you have picked your race now familiarize yourself with the course. Is the course flat, hilly, on trails? Make sure that your training runs can at least partially mimic what you will experience in training. I’ll never forget in 2002 running my first marathon in Chicago, a very flat road course. I trained solely on hilly trails in Steamboat, so while my lungs felt great, I was extremely sore after the race because I never did any long runs on the road.
3. Training- Set up a training schedule and stick with it. Sign up for a coach or look online for a training program. Set up a training partner. You will rarely miss a workout if you’re meeting someone else.
4. Try everything out before race day: fuel, clothing, shoes, all of it! Find out what gels will be offered on the course as well as what sports drink and use those during training. If they do not agree with you then carry your own drink and gels with you. I remember once grabbing a gel in a race only to discover it had four times the caffeine I was used to. Needless to say I was in for a shock 20 minutes after eating it! Make sure you shoes do not create blisters and that your clothing is comfortable and suited for the weather typical for race day.
5. Train in similar conditions. If the race will be particularly hot or humid and you’re not used to that, try some mid-day training runs or use a sauna.
6. Cross train! Do not only run, make sure you practice yoga, Pilates, strength training, swimming and/or biking. You need to work all of the muscle groups not only the ones isolated by running, this will greatly minimize injury
7. 4-8 weeks before the race do a warm up race of half the distance. A month before a marathon, look for a half or a 10k. This will help you work out the kinks before race day.
8. Get a good nutrition strategy for before, after and during your runs and races. This is OPTIMAL for success and I will discuss in detail in another blog post. Under fueling or eating junk is a sure fire way to sabotage your marathon plans.
9. Taper! This is hard, yes I know but remember you can do a lot to negatively impact your running fitness the week before a race and little to increase it.
10. Adopt a mantra and visualize success. If your goal is just finishing or getting a PR, think to yourself that you have put in the training, now this is your reward and pain is temporary.