10 Tips for Marathon Runners

by Edward Stern who is also known for taking online university classes and writing for

Running a marathon is the ultimate accomplishment for many a distance runner, but it is also the most difficult to achieve. Just running 26.2 miles is an accomplishment in and of itself, regardless of goals for completion times. Running a marathon demands intense preparation in all aspects of ones life, including training, diet, and sleep, not to mention mental preparation.

A marathon is a complete physical and mental challenge, one that requires discipline unlike most other sporting endeavors. Here are 10 tips for marathon runners to get you to your goal: completing a marathon and meeting your desired completion times.
  1. Plan well, well in advance. A marathon is absolutely not something you just decide to do and just training for a week in advance. It should take months of preparation. Even as much as 6 months or a year in advance, pick a marathon to work towards and begin preparation immediately. Start logging your runs and times, starting with shorter runs (2-5 miles, depending on your endurance) during the week and longer runs on the weekend. Slowly work your way up as you build endurance.
  2. Set reasonable goals. If you've never run a marathon before, don't think you'll go sub-4 hours the first time out. Set goals that will push you, but that at the same time you can actually reach, by keeping a log and seeing where your stamina and running capacity is well before a race.
  3. Eat a low-fat, high carb diet. Carbohydrates are the fuel you will need to push through during a marathon, and for all training runs leading up to it. Make pasta and baked potatoes a staple in your diet. Keep your diet low-fat, but not no fat -- good fats, like those found in poultry and fish, are necessary for storing extra energy during runs.
  4. Drink lots of fluids. Carry a nalgene or similar water bottle and try to drink at least one, if not two throughout your day. During runs, stay hydrated by bringing a smaller water bottle. Don't overdo it though -- it will make you feel sick and can lead to cramps, dizziness, and nausea.
  5. Incorporate other exercise into your routine. Some weight lifting, particularly lower body, will help build up muscular endurance for races. Yoga is also extremely helpful to runners in that it helps stretch muscles and develop flexibiilty, but also is a time for meditation and relieving stress.
  6. Think you can. Mental preparation is key for helping push through when you hit the wall towards the end of a race. Learn to think positive, and visualize success, especially completing a race, in the months leading up to it.
  7. Develop a regimented sleep schedule. Sleep is necessary for helping your body repair itself, relieving stress, and simply feeling your best. Be sure to get at least 8 hours every day. Tailor your sleeping patterns leading up to a race to match the hours you will be getting up for a race and going to bed before it.
  8. Find a partner. Some people like running as a solitary endeavor, but most find the most success when running with a partner. You'll be able to push each other and support each other, particularly when the going gets tough.
  9. Taper leading up to the race. Don't push yourself harder than you ever have before a marathon. Instead, taper off how much running you do leading up to a race so your muscles have plenty of time to recover and are at full strength on marathon day.
  10. Enjoy the experience. Don't get so caught up in how others are doing or get down on any lackluster runs to forget that running marathons is a truly enjoyable activity. During the marathon, take the time to take it all in -- the scenery, the crowds, and especially your successes. Make memories that will last long after you cross the finish line.

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