Last 5 Tips for How To Run a Marathon

It is officially Marathon Week here in New York City. The bleachers are up in Central Park, the flags are starting to fly on the course, there are several hundred (probably thousand) Europeans running around the streets and parks and everyone is wearing sneakers. The excitement is almost tangible.

Everyone is excited, but I bet quite a few of you running the marathon are getting nervous. Before you get all crazy with carbo-loading and expo shopping, take a few minutes to read these tried and true tips from your favorite run blogger šŸ™‚

Mind you, I am not the speediest runner (my PR is 3:46) but I have finished all of the nine marathons I’ve started, including during a crazy flare-up in NJ and running with 2 other guides and a blind athlete in New York. Here are the main things that have gotten me through each of those marathons. From me to you.

#1. Start slow. Don’t let the excitement of actually getting started get you all riled up. Too fast a start will absolutely ruin your chances of finishing strong. I recommend running your first and second mile about a minute slower than your normal pace.

#2. Eat breakfast. You’ll likely be awake at least two hours before your race’s start time, which is plenty of time to eat a solid breakfast before your head off to the start line. Get up early enough to fuel up properly for what is probably going to be the longest run of your life.

#3. Maintain a steady, even pace. Even if you feel like you can run faster in the first half of the marathon, hang onto that energy for the second half. Marathon PRs aren’t set in the first 13.1 miles, but the second. If you tend to take off out of the gates, stick with a pace group.

#4. Stay positive. When it gets hard out there, don’t succumb to the pain and start getting down on yourself. “I can do this” is the most powerful thing you can say to yourself when you start to doubt your ability to finish. Negativity will get you nowhere but curled up in a ball on the side of the street crying for your mom. Trust your training. You can do this.

#5. Visualize a familiar run. The first 15-18 are in the bag, really. You’ve done it before. When you get to 18/20, visualize what your regular 6-8 mile run looks like and then count down your miles. You know what 5 miles looks like, 4 miles, 3 miles, here’s the last 2. You can do this. Think of a regular ‘ol 5 miler and hang tight.

Enjoy the crowds, but don’t get too caught up with them. Enjoy the moment and take in everything around you. This will be a moment to remember. You never forget New York. I can’t wait to see all of you out there on 1st Avenue. Look for me on the left side at 125th Street and then on 5th Avenue on 125th Street. I’ll be the tall, curly-haired brunette with cowbells in each hand.

Rock on, runners. And try to relax. Race day will be here before you know it.

Now go out and run!

What are your tried and true trips to get through a marathon?