3 Do's and Don'ts About Marathon Training


So….you decided to run a marathon…Whether it’s your first or your 50th, it’s always a memorable experience and no two are ever alike. To date, I have completed 8 of them and am planning on Boise, Idaho in October, 2017. Each of them have been memorable in their own way. (Click here to read about my marathon experiences.) What’s yours?

Over the years, I have tried some things that worked out great and others that have flopped (see below). Without further preamble, in all of their glory, are the top 3 “do’s” and “don’ts” according to the Pam Ben Rached’s Running Bible. Some of them just may surprise you….

Top 3 absolutely “do these things”:

1.    Get properly fitted and buy a new pair of running shoes: No – your old shoes are not “just fine”. If you are sure you are in the right kind of shoe, buy a new pair. Typically, running shoes will give you more or less 300 miles of wear depending on the terrain, your foot stride, your weight, etc. If you have never been properly fitted for a running shoe, (RUN FORREST RUN) to your local reputable running shoe store for a consultation. I live in the Bay Area, so I’d recommend Fleet Feet and Forward Motion. Do a search in your area and plan a consultation with a trained specialist. It is free and you will find the right shoe for you. Sorry, big box stores do not count. If you want to know why- just comment below.

2.     Find a good training program/running plan and follow the course of action: I have been using one for years that I love from a women’s book on running. Do your research and find out what plan is best for you. In the book I mentioned, there are beginner, immediate and advanced plans.

3.    Incorporate Yoga into your training: Yes – I said yoga. Running will tighten you up and yoga will stretch you out.  Do you know what happens when you start a marathon with tight hamstrings and you get to Mile 13? You cramp up! Yes Ladies and Gentlemen true story! (Denver Marathon, 2014.) Ever since then, I have faithfully practiced yoga and the results have been profound. So get your down dog on and Namaste yourself right to the finish line with happy hamstrings!

 The Top 3 Don’t Do These Things!:

1.    Go Without a Pacing Device: You can’t beat a Garmin in my book but if you’re not about electronics you can tattoo your pace times on your arm (laser removal is a b). You can always join a pace group as well. For those of you who aren’t familiar- a pace group is usually a free service provided by a marathon (usually by a local running club or organization) that will pace you to finish your marathon in a certain time (for example, a finish of 4 hours and 30 minutes or 5 hours.) The lead pacer will hold up a big sign and you simply stay with the group. One of the problems that may occur with this tactic is that you overestimate your pace, end up falling behind and you don’t know what pace you are running after all. It is so important to keep a steady pace through the race to avoid hitting the wall and burning out. For this reason and many, technology is the best marathon investment.

2.    Experiment on race day: Race day is NOT the time to try new and different clothing, sports related gels or drinks or interesting snacks provided along the side of the route by well-intentioned onlookers. Experiment with what works for you BEFORE the race and decide on race day what you will wear, eat, etc. For example, during my VERY first marathon Idecided to try out a technique I had seen in a previous half marathon regarding GU gels (if you are not familiar with these, they are little packets of instant gooey energy that runners take to give them quick energy along the course). For a long distance such as a marathon, it is not uncommon for a runner to take 4 – 6 of them over the course of the race. Where to put them? A typical running shirt or short may have a zippered pocket for one to three. I had seen a fellow runner who safety pinned hers to her running skirt. I thought: “What a great idea!” The problem was I violated Rule #2 – I had not tried it out myself prior to the race. While I was at the 3rd or 4th water station, I looked down and noticed that I had 3 empty safety pins (still fastened) and no GU! Unbeknownst to me, they had become detached while I was running creating quite the Hansel and Gretel pebble effect. Lucky for me, the race sponsor provided GU on the course. I definitely dodged a bullet there!

3.    Not investigate your marathon fully before committing: Every marathon is a little different. Some are more liberal with their times to finish and others are stricter. The Las Vegas Marathon, for example, has an absolute limit of 5 hours to finish the race. We saw many runners being turned back when the course monitors saw that there was no way they would finish on time. How sad!  First time marathoners tend to underestimate their finish times. Questions to ponder:  What is the course like?  Are snacks, adequate hydration and porta potties provided? There are LOTS of options – scope out which one feels right for you!

There you have it! This list is certainly not exhaustive. Many books have been written on this subject! What are your favorite tips? Do you have a fun footnote to add? Pam wants to know! Comment below and remember you’re only one GU away from a marathon day! :) #Igetbywithalittlehelpfrommytrainer #doyou #runningright #marthonway #runon #preparationiskey #runnotwalktothefinishline #justdoit! #tipsandtricksformarthontraining