Monica May is a fitness coach whose ultimate goal is to help every girl who loves herself enough to start living healthier. Through her diary, she passes on her fitness story, strongly believing that every girl deserves to get the sneakiest fitness and weight loss tricks—for free.
With the power of her expertise, she inspires, motivates and supports, by giving you the best workout plans, guides and tips to finally change your life. Here, she shares her top tips for running a marathon. Check out her site, Fit Girl’s Diary, for more!
I bet you’ve asked yourself: Does running ever get easier?!
To be honest, I struggled to finish my races many times, when I finally decided to do something about it. I thoroughly researched the best running tips when it comes to marathons and finally had some results. I went from struggling to finish my 10K race, to improving my time to stunning 38 minutes! How? With these seventeen amazing marathon running tips, every run is easier! Used by many famous marathoners across the world, these techniques are your golden tickets to the finish line.
After realizing how effective they are, and still many people haven’t heard of them, I decided to pull back the curtains and share them with you. Get ready for the best running tips to help you run your next marathon!
Tip 1: Take a Cold Shower
It’s not that cozy to shower with a cold water, but what you may not know is that it’s a real goodie for your body. A cold shower increases your body circulation, while preparing your body for the upcoming activity.
While hot showers are proven to relax you, the cold ones make sure to wake your body up and make you feel fresh. If you’re not a morning person, this will be the perfect wake up! Just make sure to dry your hair thoroughly before heading on to your race.
Tip 2: Run Empty Handed
This is the golden rule from one of the best world champion record holders, Mo Farah: Leave the water bottle behind. Farah says that running with a bottle puts pressure on whatever side of your body it’s weighing down, and, as we all know, running well is all about balance. Hydration is still important, but you should hydrate immediately before and after the run. (Also, you can wait for the refreshments along the way!)
Tip 3: Avoid Screens
What you really want to avoid the night before your big day are screens. We all find ourselves staring at the screen on the smartphone or tablet just before heading to bed, but you definitely want to skip out if tomorrow is your race day. This is because when you stare at a screen in a dark room, just before you fall asleep, you’re sending your body mixed signals and it makes it harder for your mind to fall asleep.
And believe me: You don’t want to run a marathon on no sleep, so make sure you follow this rule!
Tip 4: Run Tall
What’s really important when you run is your posture. The right running posture will allow your body to get oxygen easier, releasing the pressure on your back at the same time. Make sure to keep your chest up and leaning forward, your shoulders back and relaxed, your back straight and your posture tall.
Tip 5: Relax Your Fists
Don’t clench your fists—not only does it take extra energy, but it tenses your arms and shoulders as well, creating tension throughout the whole body. Try to relax your fists with this simple trick: Pretend you’re holding an egg in each palm.
Tip 6: Wake Up Early The Morning Before The Marathon
Waking up at least 3 hours before your race has so many benefits. First of all, it will help you make time for breakfast, and the meal before the race definitely needs an extra attention.
Next, it will give you more time to shower and warm up properly, and, most importantly, it will allow your body to wake up thoroughly, since it takes hours for it to actually feel awake.
And last, but definitely not least, you’ll get to the race no-rush and stress-free. It’s not a big deal if you cut down an hour of your sleep, and, in return, you’ll have time for your all-important calm and relaxed pre-marathon morning rituals.
Tip 7: Hit The Ground With Your Forefoot
Landing down with the right part of your foot is important. In addition to improving your race by increasing your speed, it prevents injuries by decreasing the impact of your footfall and prevents pain to the ankles and knees. Just be careful, do not run on your toes – make sure you run on the front part of your foot instead.
Tip 8: Dress Right
Wait—is there a wrong way to dress?! Of course there is!
For example, if your shirt gets wet and stays wet through the whole race, you will find yourself feeling quite uncomfortable. Keep the following in mind:
- Stick to cotton-free clothes (Dri Fit, Thinsulate, Thermax, Cool Max or polypropylene).
- Wear fit clothes (not too tight, not too loose).
- Choose weather-appropriate clothes—check out the forecast.
- Girls, don’t forget the sports bra!
Tip 9: Eat Like IRONMAN
When it comes to last-minute meals, many people get confused. To simplify this idea, here’s my favorite eating quote: “If you eat like a superhero, it’s more likely that you’ll feel like a superhero!”
You should eat proteins, veggies, greens, good carbs, but one really important thing that many people forget about is IRON. Make sure you include iron rich foods in your last dishes, such as spinach, kale, almonds or chestnuts.
Tip 10: Energize With A Shot Of Energy Gel
Energy gels became very popular in the last few years. They are used by many runners, and most importantly, they’re recommended by one of the world’s greatest marathon running trainers. Trainer Jeff Gaudette says that energy gels will not only increase your energy, but they will also refill your electrolyte sources and give you a steady supply of glycogen. This means that they make the perfect mate when you’re preparing for a race.
Just make sure to always take them with a glass of water, at least 30 minutes before the race starts, in order to let digestion takes its place.
Tip 11: Make A Pace Strategy
Your pace is really important ingredient when it comes to running overall. Eleven-time marathon winner Grete Waitz says it right: “You should have a realistic plan for your pace and stick to it. In the end, it’s all about pacing!”
Make a plan for your whole race. For example: Start slower in the first part of the track, and increase your pace in the second half (this always works for me).
Tip 12: Include Yoga In Your Last Night Rituals
Nothing can relax your muscles better than a session of yoga. Since yoga is so much more than just regular stretching, it provides countless benefits for every runner, especially if it’s your last night before you marathon. Many runners include yoga in their marathon training plans for a reason.
Just open YouTube, type “yoga for runners” and start posing. You’d be amazed of how good actually your muscles react to the last night yoga—they relax you, but still prepare your body for the upcoming activity.
Tip 13: Breathe Through Your Mouth
Do you often find yourself breathless on your run? It’s the same case for many runners because they don’t breathe right. Breathing can get tricky, but as long as you breathe through your mouth – you’re all set. Inhaling and exhaling through your mouth allows more oxygen through your whole body faster, making sure you have an easier run.
Tip 14: Don’t Look Down
Do you often find yourself looking at your own feet while running? Guess what—you’re making a huge mistake! Looking down when running puts pressure on your upper spine, can cause neck strain, gives you hard time breathing and shows off your insecurity. So to make it right, always look in front of you by keeping your head in a neutral position.
Tip 15: Use The “Thoughts Replacement Strategy”
Constantly thinking about a part of your body that hurts won’t make the pain disappear. So, instead, train your mind and replace your thoughts when you feel certain pain. If you feel a pain in your left calf, try thinking about other existing parts, like your hand, or your shoulders for example. When you focus on other parts, you realize that they exist, too, and the pain slightly minimizes.
This might be challenging at first, but once you learn to control it, you’re going to be amazed by its effectiveness. Just remember—your body can handle almost anything, but it’s your mind that needs an extra push.
Tip 16: Don’t Run In New Shoes
This is a lesson you don’t want to learn on the day of the race. I won’t deny that running shoes are important, but what’s much more important is keeping your feet blister and pain-free. Don’t experiment with the new pair of shoes this race—keep them for the next one.
Tip 17: Never, EVER Stop
It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you keep going! This is the golden rule, which will help you get to the end of the race easier. You can slow down as much as you like, but make sure you don’t stop, because even a short rest can beat your pace down, and it’s going to be twice as hard when you start running again.
Now, It’s Your Turn To Rock!
It’s time to put these powerful tricks into practice and shine on the finish line! You’re not convinced yet?! Try at least one of these last minute strategies on your next run to find out how effective they are, even if you’re a first timer. And don’t forget to share!
This post originally appeared on Fit Girl’s Diary as 17 Last Minute Marathon Running Tips and is used with permission.