20 Tips for Marathoners

Monday, 16 February 2015  |  Running + Triathlon

DM2014Photo courtesy of Photo-Ops

Here’s a list of marathon tips that we compiled and presented at our last Bull Circle that may help not just our Dreamers (who are running their first marathon in 6 days!), but everyone out there training for and running a marathon:


1+ Get lots of sleep a week before the race. Chances are, due to nerves, you won’t get much shut-eye the night before the race. This could be worrisome for you especially since races in Manila start at the wee hours of the morning. Don’t fret. That won’t be much of an issue as adrenaline will probably keep you wide awake all throughout the race. Having said that, since you know you won’t get much sleep, it’s best to bank your sleep several days before the race. The week before the race, say no to late night parties or even long hours at work if possible. Nod off early and, if possible, take naps throughout the day.

2+ Practice your bathroom-breakfast routine. Have a regular routine before each run from the moment you wake up until you leave the house. You should have a good, light breakfast and an opportunity to do your business in the toilet. Make this a regular routine so that, on race day, you simply follow through with the routine and avoid any surprises or problems at the race.

3+ Do NOT get sick! Training for long runs can build endurance but it can also weaken your immune system because you’re pushing your body to the limits. After your longest run before the race, protect your body like anything to avoid being sick before race day. Stay away from friends or family who are ill. Avoid crowded areas. Take multivitamins to strengthen your immune system. Eat healthy. Wash your hands often.

4+ Limit stress. RELAX. Now is not the time to move homes, break up with your partner, or start a new business. Keep your life so simple in the days leading up to the marathon so that you can completely focus on the race. There’s enough for you to worry about on marathon day, don’t add unnecessary issues.

5+ Taper well. Tapering, reducing your mileage in preparation for the race, is a key factor in your success on race day. Make sure to gradually shorten your runs 2 to 3 weeks before the race so that you’re at your peak on race day.

6+ Have a plan. Set your goals early on. Do you simply aim to finish and enjoy the entire experience? Do you want to break your PR? Do you want to run a sub-4? Determine how you want to finish and your strategy for getting there. It’s also good to have a back up goal should plans not follow through. Your second goal would be something you would be happy with if not everything goes as planned during the race.

7+ Trust yourself. Feeling anxiety and doubt before the race is not uncommon. A few hours before the race, visualize success by seeing yourself smiling while running or crossing the finish line with your arm raised in triumph. Trust in your training the past few months and know that you are fully capable, mentally and physically, of reaching your marathon goal.


8+ Petroleum jelly all over. Chafing sounds like such a trivial problem during the marathon, but do not take this lightly. A tiny chafe on your chest or arm can ruin your run. Put petroleum jelly in all areas where you think your clothing will rub against your skin. Be generous!

9+ Warm up and stretch before the race. Warm up with a walk or light jog before then do gentle stretches before the race starts. This will not just warm up your body but also calm your nerves and provide focus.

10+ Look good, run good. Wear the proper run attire before the marathon. It should be breathable, dri-fit material, and appropriate for the weather on race day. Don’t forget your visor or cap, shades if needed, running watch, good socks and, last but not the least, your most trusted shoes. It’s also important that your attire has been tried and tested during a long run. Never wear anything new on race day!

11+ Take gels. You need to replenish all the calories that you burn while you’re out there on the road. Make sure you take gels at least every 45 minutes to 1 hour during the race. You should have practiced with this same gel brand in your previous long runs.

12+ Hydrate. Whether you are thirsty or not, make sure you drink enough during the entire race. Take sips, not gulps. Avoid gulping down fluids at every station. It’s better to take small sips frequently. If you are not too confident about the hydration stations to be provided on race day or if you are not comfortable taking the sports drink served at a race, then bring a hydration belt.

13+ Mind over matter. Sorry but I have to say it: In a marathon, pain is inevitable. At some point during the race, you will feel exhausted, you may experience discomfort in your feet, legs, or your entire body, and, for some, you may have to fight off pain due to blisters, chafing, or injury. It can be tempting to give up, but don’t (unless it’s a major injury that requires you to stop). Running a marathon is as much a mental game as it is physical. Tell yourself you can do it. Push forward and forget the pain. Arm yourself with your favorite mantra and repeat it over and over.

14+ Enjoy the sights and sounds. If you’re aiming to finish the race without a serious time goal, then allow yourself to enjoy the sights around you, wave to the spectators around, chat with some of the runners alongside you, and even dance to the music blazing in the background. Savor the experience!

15+ Play mind games. It’s not uncommon to feel like the marathon will never end, especially during the last 10k of the race. Distract yourself from the distance by targeting a runner ahead of you and attempting to overtake. You can count how many runners in pink or blue that you pass or run faster at every other lamp post. A friend taught me to count up to 100 in the last kilometer of the race to numb yourself from the pain.

16+ Run your own race. Do not compare yourself to fellow runners. Do not try to run faster to keep up with a friend. Do remember that each runner is unique and your training, lifestyle, and physical capacity is different from others. Run the race at your own comfortable pace and be happy for the success of others.


17+ Stretch. Before the race, stretch after a brief warm up. Don’t forget to stretch as well even after you’ve crossed the finish line.

18+ Eat within 30 minutes. After the race, you may get lost in the celebration of finishing your first marathon. Make sure you take in a good amount of protein and carbs within 30 minutes to aid in recovery. It’s best to prepare this even before the race begins and put your recovery meal or drink in your check in baggage. I usually pack powdered chocolate milk and mix it with water after the race for a quick and convenient recovery drink. Eating a good meal will prevent muscle soreness the following day.

19+ Recover well. After a marathon, you may feel like you can eat absolutely anything because of the calories you’ve burned. Make sure you indulge in fresh, wholesome foods that will replenish the nutrients lost during the marathon. Drink a lot of fluids too.

20+ Inspire. Help. Pay it forward. You are now a marathoner. Share the love for running and inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle and achieve their marathon goals. Help a new runner run their first 5k. Inspire a colleague to start being more active. Give back to the sport that helped you become a better, stronger individual.