5 Things You Must Know Before Running A Marathon

1. Proper preparation prevents poor performance

One of the biggest mistakes you can make before running a marathon is to assume that ‘it’ll be alright on the day’; ‘The crowd and adrenalin will get me round’; ‘How hard can it be to run 26.2 miles?’ Make no mistake, it is a very long way and people can seriously damage their health by underestimating the challenge. Proper preparation involves doing some consistent training and following a recommended programme set out by an expert. It also involves investing a little bit of money in good running shoes and other equipment.

2. Running a marathon requires a lifestyle change (sorry, it just does!)
If you are serious about running a marathon well it will require three major lifestyle changes, at least for most of us it will.

• You need to sort out your nutrition. What I mean is that no serious runner will put junk into their body and expect to perform well. I’m afraid that means MacDonalds and their likes need to be shelved for the duration of training and your intake of fruit and vegetables needs to increase dramatically.

• You need to sort out your hydration. Most of us are actually permanently dehydrated through a lack of water. Whilst training for a marathon drink much more water than normal and severely cut back on your alcohol intake. I’m afraid that alcohol is poison to a runner.

• You need to rest much more than you used to.

3. Your pre-race preparation can make all the difference between success and failure
The worst thing you can do is just swan up to the start line and start running. It won’t be long until you’re a dying swan if you do that! Without proper pre-race preparation your race can be over before it begins. Here are a few vital things to get right before the race begins:

• Think carefully about what you will wear on the day. Don’t wear anything new but only what you’ve already trained in.

• Don’t get freaked out by the starting procedure. Give yourself plenty of time and take some warm stuff in case you are held up. A bin bag is always good in case it’s cold. Warm up properly so that you don’t get any pulled muscles.

4. Get your mind sorted out for the actual race

• Prepare your mind. Visualize the course as much as you can.

• Visualize finishing and celebrating.

• Everyone has negative thoughts. When they occur just push them away and remind yourself of the good training days.

• Apply lubricant to areas that will chafe.

• As you warm up check that you don’t need a last minute toilet break. During the Race….

• Do not “race” during the first 20 miles of the marathon. Start slowly!

• Do not panic if the pace seems wrong. Many things can happen, it’s a long race and there will be plenty of time to make up early slow splits.

• If it’s windy stay behind other runners and shelter from direct head winds.

• Do not race through the water stations. Stop if necessary. Finally, and most important, HAVE FUN!

5. A good after-race strategy is crucial if you want a quick recovery
Many runners find themselves in great pain after a race. So much so that it puts them off ever running another race. Here are a few tips to help you get back to normal living as soon as possible.

• Immediately after finishing you should try to keep walking for 5-10 minutes to allow your legs to cool down. If the weather is cold, windy, or wet make an effort to get inside or back into warm clothing. Keep drinking small amounts of water or sports drink if your stomach will allow it, even when you feel you no longer need to. My personal favourite is ‘Complete’ from the Juice Plus+ organization. www.juiceplus.co.uk/+mm026962

• Ice any sore spots immediately.

• As soon as you feel like eating, begin with small amounts of easily digestible food that you know will agree with your stomach. Although carbohydrate replacement is vital, protein is important for rebuilding damaged muscle tissue immediately following the race and for the next few days. Drink a lot of water for 48 hours.

• Keep your legs elevated as much as possible for the 24 hours after the race. If you found this article at all helpful then please visit my blog which is updated regularly with helpful advice and my own personal take on marathon training and nutrition. Go to http://www.marathontrainingandnutrition.blogspot.com

William Milton is a 49 year old married man (27 years) with 2 children and a Jack Russell called Swizzle. He enjoys many sports but is particularly dedicated to running marathons. William lives near London, England.