17 Tips That Will Help You Set A Personal Best On Your Next Marathon

This is a guest post by Monica from Fit Girls Diary – see her bio at the end of the post.

I bet you’ve asked yourself:

Does running ever gets easier?!

Well, to be honest, I’ve thought about that many times…

…when I finally decided to change my question to action!

After running a few marathons, I decided to collect the absolute BEST marathon running tips in order to make my run easier.

And when I finally tested them on my last half-marathon, I realized how helpful they actually are!

In fact, they helped me improve my time on my last race and the best thing is that I’m not the only one!

Sure enough, they’re used by some of the most famous marathon runners – world wide!

Since these tips are your golden ticket to the finish line, I decided to finally pull back the curtains and share them with you.

Get ready, because I’m bringing the noise 🙂

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Tip #1: Take a Cold Shower

Your skin bristled yet?

I know mine did, but your body actually likes this… A LOT!

There’s no better thing than a cold shower to get you ready for the race and here’s why:

  • Increases your body circulation
  • Prepares your body for the upcoming activity
  • Wakes up your body and makes you feel fresh

If you’re not a morning person, this will make the perfect start for your race day.

Just make sure to dry your hair before going out.

Tip #2: Don’t run with a bottle

As one of the best, world champion and English record holder, Mo Farah says:

“Running with a bottle puts pressure on whatever side of your body it’s weighing down, and running well it’s all about balance”

I’ve always ran with a bottle but on my last race I realized that I’m actually better off empty handed.

Since hydration is important, drink immediately before the run, and patiently wait for the refreshments along the track.

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Tip #3: Avoid Screens

I bet you find yourself staring at the screen on your tablet or smartphone right before you bed down.

Well, it happens to all of us, but here’s a fact:

Staring at the screen won’t help you fall asleep and rest!

And running a marathon on no sleep will be hard to handle.

Bedding down before a big event is already a challenge, so we don’t want to make it even harder, right?

Tip #4: Take a Shot Of Energy Gel

There is a reason why energy gels are recommended by many world’s leading marathon trainers:

  • They load us up with some last minute energy;
  • They refill our electrolytes resources, which we lose as we sweat;
  • They replenish the glycogen and calorie you’re burning and help you avoid glycogen depletion.

A shot of energy gel will energize you easy, just make sure to take it with a glass of water, at least 30 minutes before the race starts, in order to avoid bloating.

Tip #5: Run Tall

Your mom was right:

“Keep your back straight!”

The right running posture allows your body to get more oxygen by releasing the pressure on your back at the same time.

So:

  • Chest up
  • Shoulders back
  • Back straight
  • Stabilized arm motions and
  • Leaning forward posture.

Tip #6: Don’t Clench Your Fists

I could’ve never guessed this one, but clenching your firsts while running takes a lot of energy.

They tense our arms and shoulders, and that leaves us with tension on the whole body.

And one thing is clear:

We don’t want that!

So try to relax your fists by using the “egg holding technique” (pretend you’re holding eggs in your palms).

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Tip #7: Eat Like A Superhero

A good diet is the key to a happy marathon ending, but when it comes to the “last minute meals”, runners always get confused.

Because of that, I made my IRONMAN schedule:

  1. The night before the race:
  • greens – (spinach, kale, broccoli, tomatoes)
  • whole grains (pasta or rice);
  • vegetables – (grilled, steamed or in a salad);
  • proteins – (chicken, fish or clean red meat).
  1. The morning before the race:
  • oatmeal with raisins;
  • yogurt;
  • fruits – bananas are the best;
  • nuts – a handful of almonds.
  1. Hydration:
  • at least 500 ml. of water

Tip #8: Rise & Shine Before The Sun

It doesn’t always have to be before the sun, but make sure to wake up at least 3 hours before your race.

This will help you:

  • wake up properly
  • have time for breakfast
  • warm up
  • have time for the cold shower
  • get to the race on time – stress free.

Cutting down an hour of your sleep won’t change a lot, and it can bring you only good.

Tip #9: Always Land On Your Forefoot

Landing right is something that you probably already know, but since it’s really important I had to add it in my golden list.

You should always remember one thing: When you hit the ground, always land on your forefoot.

This will provide many benefits, starting from:

  • decrease your impact
  • increase your speed
  • prevents bad knee

And here’s how to do that:
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Tip #10: Create a Pace Strategy

Finding your rhythm is really important, but making a plan about it plays a big role too

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If you haven’t got your plan yet, here’s mine:

Start slower in the first half of the track and slightly increase your pace in the second half.

This always works for me, especially for 5K and 10K races.

Tip #11: Dress For Success

There’re a few rules when it comes to dressing for the race:

  • Choose the right fabric – forget cotton, and go for Dri Fit, Thinsulate, Thermax, Cool Max, polypropylene or silk.
  • Don’t wear clothes that are too tight, but again choose something that’s not too loose too.
  • Choose weather appropriate clothes – check out the forecast
  • Girls, don’t forget the sport bra

Tip #12: Do a Session Of Yoga

It’s really important to rest well the night before the race.

And what’s the best way to relax body and mind – YOGA!

Since yoga is more than just a stretching, many runners include it into their training.

However, it’s always a good idea to do a session of yoga the night before your big day.

Just type “yoga for runners” on YouTube and let your favorite poses do the rest!

Tip #13: Breathe Through Your Mouth

When it comes to breathing, many runners confuse themselves:

Do I breathe through my nose, or let my mouth join the party?!

Well you might not know, but you should always breathe through your mouth – inhale and exhale.

Why?

Breathing through your mouth makes it easier for your whole body to refill with oxygen.

And that means that you’re going to go easier through your run.

Unfortunately, you’d be surprised by the fact that many marathon runners don’t know this yet – that’s why I had to include it in my marathon running tips list.

Tip #14: Don’t Look Down

Looking down when running puts pressure on your upper spine, can cause neck strain, gives you hard time breathing and shows off your insecurity.

And I bet you find yourself staring at your snickers when running, but make sure you change that on your big day.

Try looking in front of you by keeping your head in a neutral position.

Tip #15: Use The “Thoughts Replacement Strategy”

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Mind and body always work together!

Here’s a fact: Your body can handle almost anything, but it’s your mind that needs an extra push!

And how to do that?

Easy – the “Thoughts Replacement Strategy”:

When you feel the pain or the burn, try thinking about parts that don’t hurt.

If your calves hurt, try re-focusing on your left hand – think about how it exists too, it’s sweaty, it doesn’t hurt but could use some rest.

And if your whole body feels like collapsing, force yourself to think about something else (plan something you’re going to do for example)

This is mental training, so don’t worry if it doesn’t work at first – the race is long enough to give it a try a couple of times.

Tip #16: Don’t Run In Brand New Shoes

This is a lesson you don’t want to learn on the day of the race.

I won’t deny that running shoes are important, but what’s much more important is keeping your feet blister and pain free.

So don’t experiment with the new pair of shoes this race, keep them for the next one.

Tip #17: Never EVER Stop

A smart man once said:

It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop!

So, slow down as much as you like, but make sure that you keep going.

Even a short walk can crush down your pace and it’s going to be twice as hard when you start running again.

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Now It’s Your Turn!

It’s time to actually put these powerful strategies into practice and shine on the finish line!

You’re not convinced yet?!

Use at least one of these strategies on your next race and you’ll see for yourself.

Don’t forget to share 🙂

Short Bio About Monica May From Fit Girl’s Diary

Monica May is a fitness coach that one day decided to start a mission and help every girl, that loves herself enough to start living healthier.

Through her diary, she passes on her fitness story, strongly believing that every girl deserves to get the sneakiest fitness and weight loss tricks – for free.

With the power of her expertise she inspires, motivates and supports, by giving you the best workout plans, guides and tips, to finally change your life.

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