The Dos And Don'ts Of Running A Marathon

A marathon is a difficult challenge, but running 26.2 miles or over 42km is achievable with the right training, preparation and application. Here's our handy guide to the dos and don'ts of running a marathon.

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The dos of running a marathon

  • Be positive. It's one of the more simple rules, but positivity shouldn’t be understated. You have done your training, be determined that you will finish.

  • Taper down well in the last weeks. Prepare for your rest. It is better to go into the race undertrained than overtrained. If you've undertrained you can rely on the adrenaline of race day to help you find energy from somewhere. If you've over-trained, once you've gone, you've gone!

  • Check out your gear carefully. Lay it out well in advance, even a few days before your the race. This ensures you don't forget anything and you’ve got sufficient time to get anything that you are missing.

  • Have a gentle run the day before the race. Getting out and doing a few kilometres (perhaps no more than 5k) will not deplete your energy reserves and it will relieve any tension or any pre-race apprehension you may be having.

  • Get a good book to read the night before the race, or the morning of the race. It will stop your mind dwelling on the task ahead and ensure you don’t get overrun with nervous tension.

  • Eat a balanced meal the night before the race. The ideal meal needs to include protein, carbohydrate and some fat. A nice dessert will be fine too. Just make sure you stick to the same sort of foods you’ve had before your training runs.

  • Tape up and grease. This is an essential rule when it comes to the dos and don'ts of running a marathon. Surgical tape on nipples (male and female) and Vaseline between the legs, under the arms and maybe on toes, if you are blister prone.

  • Don't shower. Taking a shower removes the body's natural oil that helps the body stay cool, which is important to prevent premature dehydration.

  • Split the race into chunks. Five miles or 5k, to help you feel you are making progress. Faster runners should relax to 16 miles (around 25km), and then treat the rest as a 10 mile road race.

  • Stick to an even pace that you know you can finish in. Wear a sports watch to track your pace and don't get distracted in the excitement. Start your watch as you cross the start line, and then you will then know your true pace and time for the distance.

  • Carefully plan your route and timing to the start, so you don't end up rushing or panicking. You’ll have time for those last-minute things such as visiting the toilet and warming up.

The don'ts of running a marathon

  • Don't get carried away in the excitement of the start, run too fast and then come to a virtual stop at some stage. It is always better to be passing people after half way than being constantly overtaken. Stick to your own pace.

  • Don't be on your feet all day sightseeing or shopping the day before the race. It might be tempting to explore or sightsee the day before the race, especially if you are in a new town, but this will only leave you tired before you've even stepped on the course.

  • Don't wear any new running gear, especially shoes. All of your running kit should be tested and tried in the days and weeks before the race.

  • Don't over hydrate before and during the race. Your body can only absorb so much liquid. Drinking moderately during the marathon is the best advice. Your training should have given you a good idea of how much you need to consume during the race, given the conditions you get on the day.

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