Whether you’re a veteran marathoner or a novice runner, running a marathon is an intense experience that requires a great deal of focus and dedication to finish. Marathoners will often describe the last two miles of a race as difficult as the first 24 miles, and with the stress such distance places on the body, it’s not a stretch to believe those last few miles are the most punishing.
Crossing the finish line takes a combination of mental strength and real-life agility, and preparing well before and during the race can help to ensure you’ll complete your marathon with success.
Don’t Deviate from Your Strategy
Just because a marathon represents the end of an intense training regimen doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind and toss all the training and discipline out the window. Training for a marathon represents only half the battle. Actually competing in and finishing the distance on race day is the other half!
Training runs up until the big day help to improve your endurance, strength and focus and when it comes to actually running the race. It is important to stick to the pacing, break schedule and fluids intake your body is used to. Don’t let the excitement of race day push you to run your first 10 miles at a pace that will have you dragging and finding it impossible to run by the time you hit the final push at mile 20 and beyond.
If your aim is to complete your marathon with an average 10-minute-mile, make sure you pace yourself to do just that from the moment the race starts. Whether you’re running alone or with a group you’ve trained with for months, keeping your pace steady and practiced is the key to a strong crossing of the finish line.
Run with a Friend or Group
Running a marathon is a goal many people form and it’s quite possible to find a running partner with whom to train and run a marathon. Making inquiries of your closest friends and family might allow you to find a runner who has similar goals who will train with you.
If your friends closest to you are not apt to pick up a pair of running shoes, there are many larger groups that run for charitable causes that you can join which will help you train and also offer the mental support required to finish a marathon.
In addition to providing running partners, training groups--whether charitable or volunteer based--can act as cheerleaders deep into the race when running becomes the most difficult and the finish line seems a thousand miles away.
Rest, Rest and More Rest
The easiest way to make a marathon much more difficult is to come to the starting line without the proper amount of rest. Although the night before the big race will be an exciting time, it is important to spend the week before race day letting your body rest with full nights of sleep and limited running. A gentle run of 5 to 7 miles is all that you should need in the days before a marathon.