The dos and don'ts of running a marathon

More marathon training tips for runners

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

The dos of running a marathon

  • Be positive. It's one of the more simple rules for the dos and don'ts of running a marathon but be positve. You have done your training, be determined that you will finish.

  • Taper down well in the last week. Prepare for your rest. It is better to go into the race under-trained than over-trained. If you've undertrained  you can rely on the adrenanline 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 three or four days before the race. This ensures you don't forget anything.

  • Have a gentle run the day before the race. Two or three miles 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.

  • 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.

  • Tape up and grease. This is an essential rules 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, and then treat the rest as a 10 mile road race.

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

  • Carefully plan your route and timing to the start, so you don't end up rushing or panicking.

The don'ts of running a marathon

  • Don't get carried away in the excitement of the start, run too fast and 'die' 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, 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 stuff 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.

Comments (4)

  • runtoofar 'Pretty sensible stuff. If I have a bad race, it's usually because I've gone off too fast. Definitely 'run your own race' - get your pacing worked out in training and stick to it.'

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  • OzBoy 'Deyhydration - there is a lot of needless scaremongering about this which results in many novices taking on far too much water, causing endless race time consuming loo stops. Just don't do it, drink only what you feel like, not what you think you should be drinking - you should have a very good idea of your water requirements from your training!.'

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  • hongkongpully 'be cautious around distance markers - they are not always accurate and can affect the way that you respond to your pace. Use a GPS device to be more sure and pace settled. '

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  • dickens 'I read this somewhere and it really works as far as your 'P' breaks are concerned. Drink moderately till 2 hours before the start ... then stop. Don't drink anymore till you're at the starting line and have a few gulps of sports drink. You're good to go till the next water stop. Just drinking a few gulps at each water stop should be perfect!'

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