30 Simple And Effective Marathon Running Tips
There are far more that many runners have never considered implementing in their training, which can make a significant difference in the way they train and race.
It doesn’t have to be complicated but often times we make it more than it needs to be, the more advanced we get in the sport.
I would suspect that many of these ideas you may have heard but hopefully there will be a few, if not all, that will change your running for the better.
There are a few ideas suggested in this post that even I didn’t recognize after having competed in the sport for 15 years.
Running a faster marathon involves many different factors.
It involves a lot of minute details that we often overlook because we don’t think they matter.
1. Don’t compare yourself to another athlete
There is no one like you in a world of over 7 billion, that is powerful.
You have your own strengths.
Spend your time on what you can do, rather than what Joe or Jane ran last week.
Your focus will sharpen because your not giving mental energy to someone else but to yourself.
2. Stop worrying
The Bible says, who by worrying can add a single hour to his/her life? (Luke 12.25).
Focus, train hard and believe.
It is all you can do, let the worrying worry about itself.
Runners who have taught themselves to run relaxed while running at maximal effort will produce the best results.
Let your competitors be uptight, not you.
4. Choose to be great
Is there anything wrong in being average?
If that is what you wish for you life, so be it, but I highly doubt many people want to be less than they truly can be.
We all have, at some points in our lives, accepted our fitness level.
Runners can always be better, there can always be areas of our preparation that we can improve on and that comes down to a choice to be great.
5. Sleep more
You can be the most dedicated athlete on planet earth but the well-rested athlete is the most dangerous and will get the most trade off for their hard training.
Remember, it is what you are doing the other 24 hours that count, not just the workout.
6. Run longer at faster paces
It is a no-brainer but sometimes runners miss this.
They have the discipline to run high mileage, do long runs but are not running long enough at the paces they are dreaming about holding.
Change this and you will change your running reality.
7. Fight resistance
The resistance to not run, take the day off because you don’t feel like it.
You always have to have your guard up because resistance and procrastination are the enemy.
They take you, me and everyone around us away from achieving what we are capable of.
8. Run more hills
A common workout used by Renato Canova, one of the world’s top distance running coaches advocates doing 5x300m hills.
The intensity is all-out giving the athlete a 5 minute walk back recovery.
The reasoning is you recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers when you run very fast.
The more muscle fibers recruited the more efficient you will be able to run at race pace.
Keep in mind race pace is not sprinting but learning to run at maximal efforts up hills will make marathon race pace that much easier.
9. Eat more iron rich foods.
I wrote about this in Fueling Running Success Tips To Help You Race Successfully in 2013.
I was diagnosed with anemia back in 2007 and probably was anemic from 1992 to 2007 without knowing it.
All it takes is paying closer attention to your iron intake.
Your body doesn’t produce it so you have to get it in your diet.
A healthier iron content within your body the more efficient you will be able to transport oxygen to your working muscles.
Crucial, especially when racing.
Pay more attention to eating foods like spinach, cereals, red meats etc.
10. Let Go…
…of stress, worry, concern, doubt, regret.
Let it go.
A bad race is a learning experience, setback a stepping stone for success, failure one way to teach you what it takes to reach your breakthrough.
Let go of the bad race, relationship, disappointment.
All we have is the present and what we do with it now is what counts.
11. Fight the urge to start out too fast
Improper pacing can destroy months of build up in a matter of minutes.
It isn’t where you are at at mile 5 but where you are when it counts, the last 100 meters of the race.
12. Don’t over think
Easier said than done but the more relaxed and confident you can be on race morning the better you are going to perform.
13. Be the opposite of what you see
The masses of people you see in races are stressed, tense and concerned how they are going to perform.
If you have done your homework in training you don’t have to be any of these.
Follow the path less traveled.
Have faith in your training.
You don’t have to be worried or tense if you know you trained properly and you surely don’t have to follow what the ocean of people around you are doing.
14. Wear lighter shoes.
If you have ever tried to race a marathon in training shoes you may want to consider wearing a pair of racing flats
I would certainly advocate going to your local running store, having them give you a gait analysis test on the treadmill and picking the right shoe for your foot.
A lighter shoe, over 26.2 miles can help cut your current personal best significantly.
15. Run longer
If you are aiming to run your first marathon, doing 10 mile long runs is not going to truly assist you in completing the distance.
You have to take action on lengthening the distance of your workout.
Be patient but gradually extend the distance of your runs and than work on the paces you run them at.
16. Run longer at faster paces
If your goal is to run a marathon at a specific pace, whether 10 minute mile pace or 5.09 per mile pace, focus in on gradually, over time, running longer at your goal race pace.
It isn’t how many miles you are running, but what you are putting into those miles.
A 20 mile run done at 2 minutes slower than your goal pace is not as potent as a 10 mile run done at goal pace.
Work smarter, not harder.
17. Be grateful
Take the time to enjoy the little improvements along the way because if you stress over every little detail of training you are going to ruin yourself.
It isn’t worth the mental energy or focus we give it.
Give yourself a pat on the back for a great workout or a long run you held at a specific pace you have been working on.
Be grateful for the little things, doing so will make the breakthroughs all the more rewarding.
18. Study the marathon running tips and tricks of the world’s best distance runners and coaches
Find out what they do and how you can make changes in your own training.
I am sure you can find many new ways of training that you never considered in the past.
It took the last American female to win the Boston Marathon to show me the error in my ways.
Find these people, dedicate yourself to finding out what makes them successful.
You don’t have to have winning the Boston marathon as your goal but you do need to look at all the training angles and see which one will have the most impact on your training so you can race more successfully.
19. Study beginners
What is brilliant about new runners?
They have no limits.
Beginners are excited, optimistic to learn and willing to work to improve.
A beginner can still teach a veteran and we, who have been around the sport for years need to keep that in mind.
20. Believe in the impossible
The status quo and comfort zone are not our friends.
A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” -Steven Pressfield
Where did we go wrong as adults? We begin to limit ourselves the older we get and it is sad.
I catch myself doing it from time to time.
I am 36, can I really break 2.15.00 for the marathon?
A child would tell you anything is possible, their imagination is limitless and it can be the same for us as adults…if we allow ourselves.
21. Practice drinking more
Drive your long run route and drop water bottles out every 3 miles. I do this every long run I do.
If you have the luxury of a towpath nearby you you can ride a bike and drop fluid at every 3 mile mark.
If you don’t drive the route and sit water or sports drink out every 3 miles.
The more you practice ingesting proper amounts of fluid in training the more knowledgable you will be in the race.
Knowledge is truly power in a marathon race.
Success in this distance isn’t just about the training.
Fueling is critical and equal to the training you do leading up to the big dance.
22. Wear comfortable clothing
I forbid you to wear a cotton t-shirt or any other clothing item that doesn’t fit, isn’t breathable or suits you on race morning.
I always train in wick-free material, clothing options that are comfortable, make me feel professional and aren’t going to irritate your skin when you race.
23. Make a plan A, B and C
If you have a specific goal time in mind plan to run that time.
If it isn’t going so hot, if you went out too fast and have to adjust pace also adjust your original plan and so on.
Planning before the race starts and perhaps during will keep you motivated to get to the finish line.
Finishing the distance is also an accomplishment.
It just doesn’t seem that way because our society is so caught up in times, places and prize purses.
There are people who see finishing a marathon as a life-long goal and that is a big accomplishment.
I wish our commentators could appreciate that more.
24. Implement long fartlek running into your training
Fartleks are a great way to break up the monotony of endless miles.
That being said, short fartleks such as 5x1min hard followed by 1 minutes easy isn’t really conducive to marathon success.
40 to 60 minutes of 1 minute hard followed by one minute easy is more in tune with assisting runners for the marathon distance.
You are spending 20-30 minutes at paces that far exceed your goal marathon race pace.
Your goal pace may be 8 minutes per mile but those 1 minute hard repeititions you are running at or below 6 minute mile pace and that is where you can create massive strength….but you have to be patient and let the adaptation to occur.
25. Discipline yourself to get more sleep
Running tons of miles and staying up late doesn’t allow your body the time to recover.
Studies have shown that a decrease in sleep over just a 3 day period can effect glucose metabolism in marathon runners.
Glucose metabolism is to important in that it helps the body store energy from the food we eat.
Like I mentioned in Hack Away At The Unessentials. Tips To Combat Self Sabotage it isn’t just the training we do but what we are doing the other hours of the day that will be essential to your success at the 26.2 mile distance.
26. Don’t be afraid to fail
You, by not trying at all, is selling yourself short.
We have to go after our goals with 100% commitment, to do anything less is going to always make us wonder if we could have achieved that wild running goal.
The old saying it is better to have tried and fail than to never have tried at all is very true.
It reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘in the arena’ quote.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
27. Take some risks…
in training, in racing, in life.
We are only here for a brief amount of time.
80 to 100 years is not a long time.
Push the boundaries in your training and make training the hard part.
Training should always be harder than the race.
We are training on chronically fatigued legs in our marathon build up.
Of course, training should be harder but why do we stress on race morning when we are fresh, when all the work has been done?
Taking risks in the race means you are not afraid to fail, that you want to break what the status quo says you are capable of.
28. Race without the watch
I don’t suspect many will consider this one as hearing splits is important but sometimes you just have to go by feel.
I didn’t wear a watch when I ran my 2.19 marathon.
I had no idea what pace we were running.
All I knew is I had trained my ass off leading into the California International Marathon and the Kenyans I was running with were some very big boys.
The only way I knew I was running the race of my life was when we passed the 10 mile mark and heard (51.27).
I am sure of this, had I been focusing on the mile splits in that race, on that particular day, it would have messed with me mentally.
I would have begun to over think, worry the pace was too fast and slowed down.
No watch, no worry.
You do have to have faith in your preparation, that is for sure, but sometimes it can be a great tactic for marathon success.
29. Take ice baths
One of my former army world class athlete program teammates would fill up an empty trash can in his garage with water and ice and stand in it.
It is a great way to reduce inflammation and helps bring oxygen rich blood throughout tired and fatigued muscles.
It also is an outstanding way to recover from long, hard long runs.
If you have been a reader of rundreamachieve.com long enough you will know that the hardest workout I do is, in fact, the long run.
I have always just filled my bath tub up with cold water than poured ice into it and sit in it for 15 minutes.
Painful yes, but how many of your competitors are doing it?
30. Stay positive
There are no shortcuts in this sport and if you can’t keep a level head, if you are letting negativity get the best of you.
You have to end it.
A poor workout doesn’t equate to a bad race a few weeks down the road.
You are not out of shape if you miss your pace in a mile repeat or tempo effort.
Do the workout, than let it go if goes south, try again another day.
Don’t hold on because if you do you will be giving time to something that has already occurred, that you cannot change.
There are days when you simply will not fill right.
Be patient, rest up from that session and give it a shot two days later.
You have to stay positive in the marathon training process.
It is already tough enough, giving your focus to anything else but positivity is a waste of your precious energy.