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Tips for Preparing For a Marathon

Updated on December 1, 2016

Running a marathon may sound like a pipe dream due to negative connotations associated with hard training. Admittedly, preparing for a marathon is daunting as the exercise may stretch for months leading up to the event. If you are an ardent runner, signing up for a marathon may be the next best thing to culminate the year on a high note. Besides the obvious benefits of bolstering your health, you can compete to raise money for your favorite charity. Here are fantastic tips to help you prep like a pro.

a) Find the right gear

The first step in training for a race is finding the right sports gear such as sports bras, running shorts, trainers, running backpack, sunglasses, and even a hat. Finding the right pair of shoes can make the difference between being comfortable and hurting your feet. If you suffer from flat feet, consult a podiatrist who will recommend the best insoles for your condition. Alternatively, you can find some guidelines here.

b) Train early morning

Hitting the race track at the crack of dawn not only gets your blood pumping early on, but it also accords you the pleasure of running when the air is still fresh. Typically, the hustle of commuting starts between seven and eight AM, thus leading to air and noise pollution from the traffic. Do not cancel your training due to bad weather; opt for the gym instead and alter the incline on your treadmill to reflect the terrain you encounter at your local park.

c) Replenish water intake

It is crucial to stay hydrated throughout training particularly if you are practicing in the hotter months. While keeping up a regular water intake is important, you cannot bring your water bottles as you run. Balancing a load on your back is counterproductive and is likely to slow you down and prevent you from covering the required distance. Before you embark on a run, drive along your training path and hide your bottles of cooled water in places that are easy to remember such as underneath a park bench or next to a big tree.

d) Mind the topography

After registering for the marathon, take a walk along the designated marathon route to get familiar with the terrain. Find a running trail that mimics this terrain to practice on so that your body gets acquainted early on. Even if the marathon route is mainly flat, your need to prepare for this as well. Running on a flat surface for hours on end means that you will use the same muscles for the duration of the race, which can be exhausting. Failure to prepare your leg muscles increases the chance of developing muscle cramps or even pulling a hamstring.

e) Reduce stress levels

Control everyday stressors in the final week leading up to the marathon. While you may not avoid handling pressures in the workplace, postpone drinking sprees until after the marathon. Give your feet ample time to rest the day before the marathon, so they are ready to tackle the course. Having said that, avoid running errands that involve plenty of walking such as shopping at the mall or taking your kids to the park. Such chores are likely to drain your energy at a time when you need it the most.

f) Have breakfast

If you typically skip breakfast opting to grab a coffee on your way out, this should not be the case when running a marathon. You need to eat a carbohydrate-laden breakfast three hours before the race. Your best bet is a French toast, sports bar, and a banana smoothie. Breakfast will restock your energy stores, so you have plenty of fuel to last the duration of the race. You can also take a sports recovery drink for an added boost of energy.

g) Realistic expectations

If you are a novice to long races, do not set unrealistic goals such as finishing the race in x amount of time. Seasoned athletes attest that numerous factors abound that could impact the outcome of the marathon, the most common factor being weather patterns. Heavy showers on the marathon day could wreck havoc and even cause many runners to drop out of the race. Manage your expectations and focus on one goal; conquering the distance. You can attempt to beat the clock in future races.


Preparing for a marathon is the first step in ensuring that you complete the race. Plan your exercise regimen months ahead of the marathon and if possible, find a group to train with for extra encouragement. Do not skimp on the right gear.


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