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How to finish a marathon

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Ok, taking a few minutes to jot down some of the things that worked for me in my first marathon. I also added a few things here:

I wasn't crazy about the on-course fuel options. Not only was the first station at MILE 9 (who can wait that long? not me!), but it wasn't something I wanted. It was oranges, and that's just not what I want when I'm running, nor did I feel like it would give me enough energy. They had Dunkin Donuts munchkins later in the race, and I passed on those, too.

The two things I did like were SportsBeans and ClifShots. Unfortunately, the ClifShots stop was well past when I would normally take mine.. I like the one with caffeine. Know the fuel, know WHEN the fuel is, and plan accordingly.

I fueled every 4 miles. I stashed a CS and a pack of Honey Stinger chews in my pants pockets, and 1 Stinger waffle in each side of my bra! I ate the Sports Beans, and that was just perfect!

I also got water at every water station, which was about every 2 miles. For the first few, I did just water, then I started taking a Gatorade, and washing it down with a water. If it was time to fuel, I tried to wait until right before a water stop, or had my fuel ready and grabbed a water as I went through. I'd walk long enough to wolf it down, wash it down, and then on I went!

Yep, I Gallowayed it! I walked for 1 minute at each mile marker. I tried to time my fuel breaks to coincide with that minute, or if there was a water station coming up, I would wait until I got to it before starting my 1 minute.. and I held to 1 minute. I found that my pace actually improved doing this. Not only that, but at the 20 mile mark, I was ready to let loose. My last few miles were some of the fastest ones!

Running Buddy totally kept me from dashing out of the gate. That, along with the walking, probably gave me that extra spurt at the end.

I got in two 18 and two 20 mile runs before my taper. I tapered well, I rested well, I took good care of myself in the weeks leading up to the marathon. I test drove all of my clothing and fuel during my training, and I trusted my training. There was no point where I thought I could not do it. I trained on hills, even though there were only a few on this course. I did strength training as well as running, and I only ran 3 days a week. I always made time for rest days / recovery, and I worked in a massage here or there if I was especially tight.

No wall, just a little stiff, ready for the next one!

The link above has some info, specific to the MCM. If you're planning to run that next year, I would definitely suggest giving it a read. As for running a marathon in general, I read a ton of stuff, picked out what I thought I could stick with, and then tried a bunch of different things to see what worked well for me.

Buy shoes 1 size larger than normal. My first 10 mile run resulted in my first lost toenail.

Purchase Body Glide, and use it liberally!

Test drive clothing on a short run first! I think it was my first 8 mile run when I found out that the running skirts from Target are a smidge too short (and that Body Glide might have helped!).

Running in the rain feels good. Running in a torrential downpour is another good way to lose a toenail (or two).

Good socks matter.

You can hurt yourself on cross-training days if you aren't careful. I took a boot camp style class that involved alot of sudden sprinting and quick turning ("footwork"), that I believe is the cause of my pulled hamstrings. For a while, I was worried about the race because of them. Work your way into anything new, and take good care of your body if you do injure it.

Good luck in your next race, hope to see you at one soon!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great blog CARYNW! Thank you for the advice.

    2843 days ago
    Thanks for the great advice! I'm tackling my first marathon in May 2012.

    So is chafing really an issue with longer runs? So far I've only run half marathons and I haven't had any problems with that. But I will invest in some Body Glide if need be.

    I've never tried the Honey Stinger chews, but I keep hearing good things about them. Will have to try some!
    3129 days ago
  • BRIAN36
    You're right about the cross training. I had to stop my kickboxing classes 6 weeks before the marathon, because of the stress the plyometrics were putting on my legs.
    3135 days ago
    Your training and prep sounds a lot like mine. Glad the walk breaks helped. Would have liked a little less heat and sun at marathon, but you control what you can.

    My first few runs after the marathon felt fine but the my outer left knee started to hurt so I dialed back the running for a week. Short and easy sounds like the way to ease back in.

    Once again, emoticon
    3135 days ago
  • BILL60
    You appear to have really "nailed" your preparation. Great job. So, when is the next marathon. With you outstanding preparation and experience, the next one should be even better. Good luck and congratulations on a super job.
    3136 days ago
    Wow thx first full marathon in may
    3137 days ago
    Sounds to me like you KILLED it! You were indeed prepared for the race. I knew about 5 people that did that race and I can see why it is so appealing. Great tips, too! ROCK ON!
    3137 days ago
  • FRECKS96
    Awesome, thanks!
    3137 days ago
    GREAT TIPS! Thanks! I was wondering how long your long runs were...wanted to see how/why you were so comfortable in your first marathon. That was really helpful! As were the rest of your tips!

    Again, CONGRATS!
    3137 days ago
    LOVE reading these tips!! Thanks for sharing!!!!! emoticon
    3137 days ago
    I pulled out my notes from when I did MCM ten years ago: first food stop was at mile 8 and was fruit and cookies! Sounds like MCM is headed in the wrong direction - less food choices and later in the race. How odd. (Even back then, we thought it was skimpy and complained!)
    3137 days ago
  • DRB13_1
    emoticon tips. .
    3137 days ago
    I may not be planning a marathon any time soon (ever?) but that is some very good information for anyone who wants to build up to do one.

    emoticon job.
    3137 days ago
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