The best marathon tips in brief

6. September 2017

Material: choose marathon shoes at least two months before the event and break them in. Definitely do not wear new shoes at the starting line. Lightweight competition shoes are unsuitable for most runners doing a marathon, because competition shoes offer less grip than more stable models due to their lightweight construction and therefore require highly trained foot muscles over this long distance.

Training hours: plan for the long-term. First, increase training in the months before the race, but then reduce the training hours in the final month. The final few weeks before the marathon are then just used to keep in form.

Accompanying activities: do not simply make the training more intensive, but be sure not to neglect accompanying activities, such as stretching and strengthening.

Long jog: in the final few months, plan several 2-3 hour runs, the last about three weeks before the marathon. Thereafter, no more all-consuming runs.

Training / competition time: most marathons start early in the morning. So, from time to time during training, plan longer runs early in the morning and not always just in the evening.

Heart rate monitoring: during preparation, it is highly recommended to use heart rate monitoring during training, although in the marathon itself it is less helpful, because nervousness alone causes heart rate behaviour to differ significantly from the training values. Rather rely on intuition or run at per kilometre pace if the route is flat and you know your competition pace.

Mental preparation: during the training runs, picture sections of the marathon (e.g. the effortlessness en route, how to behave in case of cramps or stitches, at the refreshment points and when arriving at the finish line etc.). Visualise different situations and rehearse possible strategies to overcome these challenges.

Practise refreshment: try out whether you would like - and are able - to run with a drinking belt. Refreshment points are available usually at sufficiently short intervals for you to be able to run without a drinking belt. Test your tolerance to various products (sports drinks, food bars, gels etc.). Find out which products are on offer during the marathon.

Rein in your ambition: patience is the keyword in the final week before the run. Only relaxed training, take care of the body. In the final days, short runs with some gradients to stay loose and lively, but no more strenuous and all-consuming runs.

Organisation: consider organisational matters in advance (start number assignment, transport to the starting area, choice of starting block, choice of clothes etc.).

Rest / sleep: include sufficient rest and sleep during the final week. Do not go to a marathon feeling stressed.

Food: in the final days before the marathon, eat less wholemeal food and do without large quantities of salad and vegetables (they burden the digestive system). Consume lots of carbohydrates.

Drinks: drink lots during the final three days before the marathon. Check for pale urine. Limit alcohol consumption during the final few days or ideally leave it out completely.

Foot care: check (and, if need be, cut) toenails at least two to three days before the run. To protect against blisters, cover critical areas with plaster or tape (try out before).

Visualise: build up self-confidence and optimism, lay any doubts to rest. Positive thoughts positively impact performance, negative thoughts inhibit it. Imagine arriving at the finish line. Nevertheless, prepare for mixed emotions and think of how to respond to problems.

Hand luggage: on a marathon trip, put the running shoes and running clothes in your hand luggage to be safe. Also, pack personal accessories such as: plasters, foot cream, sunscreen, a cap, safety pins, toilet paper etc.). Don't forget some old clothes to keep you warm before the start. The clothes can be thrown away just before the start (the organisers collect them and give them to charitable organisations).

Leg care: do not stand around for hours at the marathon fair, nor walk around the city all day, as this leads to heavy legs. Also spend some time sitting or lying down.

Get material / clothing ready: fit the running number onto the clothes. Take note of the weather forecast (possibly think of head covering or suncream). Select running clothes (preferably ones that make you feel cool at the beginning; do not dress too warmly!). Prepare clothes to keep you warm.

Running socks: special running socks are made of functional material and do not have thick seams. They are also reinforced at delicate places. Do not use new and unwashed running socks for the marathon, but ones that have been worn several times.

Running speed: determine time schedule. Write intermediate completion times for 5, 10, 15 km etc. on wrist or on a slip of paper attached to the wrist (realistic timing: marathon pace = half marathon time x 2 plus 10-15 %).

Nutrition: schedule the time of the final (carbohydrate-rich and easily digestible) meal not too late in the evening (if need be, reserve table in the restaurant).

Details: think of the details - for example, taping over your nipples (prepare plasters). Apply foot cream (supple feet prevent the formation of blisters). Take into account personal preferences and habits.

Breakfast: plan the final, larger meal around 2½ – 3 hours before the start. Thereafter, do not consume anything unusual. No more diuretic drinks like coffee or infusions 1-2 hours before the start.

Final preparation / starting phase: pack the necessary material. Travel early enough to the starting area. Warm up, running-in, last visit to the toilet. Mental preparation. Just throw old clothes to the side before the start. Do not start too fast, maintain your own rhythm and do not allow yourself to be influenced by others. Preferably run at the side. Don't overdo it at the start, you need to keep something back for the finish.

Refreshment: from the outset, make use of each refreshment point. When having a drink, switch to walking pace for a few metres and take a break. If needed, consume your gels or food bars with liquid.

Mastering crises: think positively ("halfway there", "a third to go", "just round the block" etc.). Suppress from your thoughts any complaints such as stitches or muscle pain. Focus on running style, spectators and route. Just think: approaching the finishing line, all the others are also thinking about why they came along to run....

Finish line: do not stop or lie on the ground after crossing the finish line. Keep walking, always move a little. If available, take a foil blanket straight away and protect yourself from the cold. Remove wet clothes as soon as possible and put on warm clothes.

Showering / bathing: enjoy a hot shower or preferably a hot bath, possibly even a massage. Warming ointments heighten well-being.

Nutrition / liquids: immediately after crossing the finish line, begin to compensate for the loss of fluids, drink a lot (sports drink with carbohydrates). Have a carbohydrate-rich meal as soon as possible. Alcohol immediately after the run (in the first few hours) extends the regeneration period.