In 6 short days, many runners will participate in the Philadelphia Marathon or Half Marathon. For some, a marathon or half marathon is nothing new. I’ve talked to a number of runners in the store who are looking to build on their performances at the Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half in September in either the Half or full Marathon next week. Others have run so many distance races, they can’t even keep track of how many they have done.
For many, if not most runners, however, November 17th will mark their first half or full marathon. Any race, let alone one as long as a half or full marathon, can be daunting to a newcomer.
At this point, you’ve put in all of your important training; you’re physically ready to kick some butt , but what about the logistics of the event? How do you deal with the crowds? What should you wear on a chilly (or even cold) fall morning? What should you be doing the night before the race or the morning of the race? What’s the best way to stay fueled and hydrated during the long grind of 13.1 or 26.2 miles?
All these considerations are important, but often difficult to find answers to. For starters, check out this primer from Philadelphia Runner’s own Ross Martinson on how to prepare yourself for the time of your life next Sunday morning.
If you’re like most runners, you still probably have a lot of questions about the race. In search of answers to many of those, I polled members of our staff for advice. Below you will find simple-but-important tips from experienced marathoners on how to make the most of your first (or second, or tenth) foray into a marathon.
The Night Before The Race:
“In regards to clothing, …make sure you are prepared for all possibilities. I often set out my clothing the night before from my socks to my top. …pack options like shorts or pants/capris, a long and short sleeve and perhaps a light jacket just incase of rain or colder weather than expected so you can layer.”—Jenny Lingford (1 marathon, 2 half-marathons. Running 2013 Philadelphia Half Marathon)
“Body Glide. This is the exception to the “nothing new rule” (note: this rule “dictates” that you stay in your normal routine—sleep, food, running shoes/clothes—throughout race week.) Use this anywhere you don’t want to chafe”—Ross Martinson (Philadelphia Runner owner and 2:23 marathoner)
The Morning of the Race:
“Arrive with more time than you think you need because there will be long lines for the porta-potties.”—Liz Foster (Philadelphia Runner Employee)
“Eat breakfast. Eat something before the race. It doesn’t need to be a lot, but eating 200-300 calories will help your race. I like to bring a bagel or banana over to the start, along with a bottle of water.”—Ross Martinson
During the Race:
“Pick your pace. Your goal may be to finish, but pacing yourself will get you there as quickly as possible. Pay attention the first few miles to what your splits are and adjust if needed. Try not to go out to fast.”—Ross Martinson
“Stick to your training pace, especially at the start of the race. It is often way too easy to get out of the gate faster than planned. You will pay for it at the end of the race. A GPS watch set for your current pace is a good way to keep an eye on your speed.”—Jenny Lingford
“One mile at a time. At some point, the marathon will feel hard. Focusing on the current mile is easier than contemplating the next 6.”—Ross Martinson
“Relax and give yourself a mental high-five for all the training miles. You’re probably a lot more healthy and mentally tough than you were 3 months ago.”—Liz Foster
The Most Important Advice
“Good luck and remember to have a little fun. You have done the work, now is the time to trust in the work you put in and enjoy the people, experience, and take pride in finishing your first marathon!”—Jenny Lingford
“On race day – enjoy the spectators! They are all out there supporting you and trying to help you finish happy. So look around, smile, enjoy your success of surviving training!”—Lauren DeRuyter (2 marathons, 1 half-marathon. Running the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon)
“If you want to get people to cheer for you to help keep you moving, just write your name on your bib or shirt and you will get the encouragement you need.”—Jenny Lingford
Use the comments section below if you have any lingering concerns or questions as you head into the Philadelphia Half-Marathon or Marathon or if you have experience at the marathon distance and have some additional tips to give to newer runners.