July 13, 2024

Running a marathon? Here are your 5 don’t do’s. By Nicole Bryan

Running a marathon is not an easy undertaking. And therein lies the beauty! You will work harder than you ever expected, feel energized more than you expected and push more than you ever thought possible. The finish is worth all your time and effort! Veteran marathoners agree on a few key don’t-do’s to make your journey to 26.2 a little easier.

Don’t make these common marathon mistakes:

Don’t go out too fast. Adrenaline and excitement will make you want to run all-out right from the start. DON’T! Begin just as you would a long training day.

Don’t miss a hydration-stop. Not feeling thirsty at that exact moment? Take a few sips anyway. A few minutes or miles down the road, you’ll be happy you did.

Don’t try anything new on race day. Every aspect of your race should be tried and confirmed to work in training, including clothing, calories, hydration, and pace.

Don’t expect a smooth ride. There will be physical and emotional ups and downs, many even within one mile. Stay focused and let the moment pass. Trust your training and power on. Visualize your finish, repeat your mantra or power word, sing your favorite song or simply count steps until you’re able to re-focus your mind.

Don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy. Part of being a smart athlete means adjusting along the way if need be. For example, you develop a stomach ache at mile 15, decrease your pace for 2 miles and drink water only until feeling better. Or you start to feel a twinge in your hamstring at mile 18, shorten your stride and change your angle or position on the road until the twinge subsides.

Trust your training. YOU ARE READY.

Heading into your off-season? 5 tips for marathon recovery by Jason Saltmarsh

5 Tips for Marathon Recovery

Congratulations! You did it. Celebrate and pat yourself on the back for completing the marathon. 99.5% of the American population will never know what that feels like. The marathon is a grueling 26.2 mile event. Your body will be weaker and your muscles will be damaged after pushing yourself hard over such a great distance. Marathon recovery requires patience and attention. But, if you do it right, you’ll be tearing it up again in no time!

1. Rest
Do what Jackson Browne says and “take it easy.” You already showed the world what you can do. It’s OK to dial things back and put your feet up for a little while. The first two days after the race you should not even think about putting your running shoes on. Maybe a little walk around the block or through the neighborhood to get the blood flowing, but nothing more. Try to get in bed early and let your body recover and rebuild.

2. Nutrition
You probably burned in excess of 3500 calories on race day and lost a few pounds between the start and the finish. Your body consumed all of your available fuel and then tapped into your reserves. Now is the time to restock the shelves with nutritious meals and plenty of water. You will feel better and have more energy if you keep the tank full with healthy snacks throughout the day. You may want to consider an immunity booster or extra vitamin C to keep your body protected during this time.

3. TLC
Icing sore muscles and joints, elevating your feet, and massaging your muscles will all help speed recovery and make you feel less like a stiff legged zombie. Be careful not to do any kind of deep massage for at least several days after your marathon. Your muscles are still very tender and vulnerable. Even if you feel better, you are still a mess at the microscopic level.

4. Walking
Walking can be very therapeutic. It allows you to get outside and feel like your back in the routine again- albeit much slower. Cross-training activities like cycling and swimming are also a good forms of exercise to help keep your cardio levels high while reducing the stress on your overused muscles and joints. Whatever you choose, keep it easy and stay in the green zone for effort.

5. Backwards Taper
As you make your way back to regular training, think of it as a reverse taper. You are going to slowly build your mileage up in a way that will keep you healthy, reduce injury, and give you a solid foundation to build upon for the future.

Jason Saltmarsh is an competitive masters runner at distances ranging from 5K to the half marathon. In November 2013, he completed his first 26.2 at the iconic New York City Marathon. Jason’s goal is to share with others the benefits and joys of running, fitness and healthy living. For more information, please visit saltmarshrunning.com

To Race or Not To Race? By Charlene Ragsdale

Many of us start running to race. Some start running for fitness and health, and then decide to run a race.  Regardless, careful planning must take place in order to determine if racing and what race is best for you and your goals.

How do you choose the best race?

Before you hop on the bandwagon of “I want to run a marathon this year, but I can’t run a mile, yet!”

Consider this:

1.  Your current level of fitness.  You don’t need to be an athlete. However, if you are extremely overweight and are unable to  run/walk a mile without being out of breath and want to run 26.2 miles within the next 6 months, I would recommend you start with a Half Marathon.

2.  Look in your local area for the races.  See what appeals to you. It might be the date, the theme or even the medal. Find the race that attracts you. That is your focus for the at least the next 6 months.

3.  If you are determined to travel for your first race – you have a multitude of options. When traveling, you need to consider hotel, food, spending monies – in addition to the race registration fees. Calculate that before you register for the race. Races do not offer registration refunds.  Make sure you can afford to travel, before you register.

4.  Develop a good training plan. You can find a host of training plans online or hire a coach. Again, keep your eye on the prize – your focus race (at least 6 months out from your training start date.)

5.  After training for 3 months, if you want to participate in the race experience, sign up for a 5k or 10k.  This isn’t required, but it might help you mentally prepare for the big day

6.  Be realistic on your first race, especially if it is a Half or Full Marathon.  Your one and only goal should be to finish upright and healthy. Time goals shouldn’t matter. You only get on First Half or Full. Relish in it and do the best you can do that day.

Charlene Ragsdale is a RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist and member of the USATF Master’s All-American Team. She can often be seen at on the podium as a frequent Age Division & Overall Winner in several distances. She lives with her Chef husband, two sons and two dogs in Las Vegas, NV. You can follow her at her blog: www.RunningWithCharlene.com

Do YOU have what it takes? Sarah Stanley offers wisdom gained from endurance athletics.

Sarah Stanley is an ultra endurance athlete who is passionate about her faith, eating real food, fitness and helping others! She’s completed 22 marathons, 11 ultramarathons, countless half marathons, plus 2 cycling adventures (DC to NYC and San Francisco to San Diego.) Allow her wisdom and encouragement to empower YOU to challenge your own fitness!

How do you handle all the different emotions that come with ultra-events?
It’s part of being an ultrarunner- you just accept how you’re feeling and keep on running! For longer ultra’s you’ll go through a wide range of different emotions. I’ve cried, laughed and cursed (yes) but always had fun! 
What physical/psychological skills have you’ve learned from endurance events?
It really is all in your head. You have to push yourself by giving yourself a pep talk (or two.) There are times when the going doesn’t just become rough, it becomes downright unbearable. And then I’ll think about those who can’t run or those who are serving our country or how the world needs some positive examples and I keep on trudging.
What do you say to yourself to keep going during an event?
I think back over my life and the things that I’ve overcome and survived, and that is what keeps me putting one foot in front of the other. I’ve come up with quotes such as “the 11th commandment: thou shalt not quit” or “giving up is for wimps” or “a finish is a finish.”  I also visualize the finish line, getting to the next aid station or top of hill. When you run an ultra you are your own cheerleader.

How do you control negative self-talk along the course?
I must (you must!) keep positive. Some races don’t always go as planned. It can be easy to get sucked into the mud (literally and figuratively.) If I get in a rough mental spot, it will be very hard to keep on running! Remember that running ultramarathons is 99% mental! I really try to just be thankful for the gift of running and enjoy the beauty that is around me. Ultras are run mainly on trails so there is usually plenty to gaze at; I find a special sweet spot-a grove or zone as some would call it- and I just stay there for the duration of the race (and even training for that matter.)

How do you handle/respond to others negativity while preparing for or during a race?
Ignore the haters! I surround myself with positive, loving, supportive people. Negativity always destroys while positive always builds up. Negative people are people trapped in their own unhappiness and will try to bring you down. Haters or negative people is about them- not about me or you. The best way to respond is with love and kindness and to keep doing what I am called to do, which is to make a positive difference in this world. 
What keeps you coming back again and again to race?
Love! The love of the sport, people, seeing how far you can push yourself when the going gets rough, being alone in the woods and really, there is just something about ultrarunning that I can’t describe with mere words. The energy, the woods, the challenge, the thrill of the unknown- it’s a sport I am in love with. And I hope I always will be.  
How has racing ultra’s helped you in everyday life?
Ultrarunning and life go hand-in-hand. I think that’s why I love it so much! Life has not always been easy for me and I’ve learned to rise above the bad and make the most of each day that I do have. My life has helped me in ultrarunning; ultrarunning is just the icing on the cake (or the salt on kale chips in my case.) 
What’s the number one thing racing has taught you? Either about yourself or others.
You never know how strong you are mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally until you tackle what most people think of as inconceivable and come out on the other side smiling (and yes, sometimes crying too.)

Are there stereotypes you face about female ultra-competitors? How do you debunk them?
I think that women are generally perceived as weaker to begin with. There are some incredible women athletes out there! I think the best way to debunk them is to just keep training and showing up-saying yes to life. Show others that you are committed and will always do your best- no matter what! 

What is your best advice to someone considering participating in an ultra?
Have some running under your shoes! You’ll have better long term success if you start small, stay diligent and consistent. Start running on trails. Ultras are synonymous with dirt, woods, river crossings, jumping trees, hills- you get the picture! Work on the small things that add up over time for example planks, side planks, squats, lunges, one leg squats, pushups. Then sign up for a 50k! And let me know- I would love to cheer you on either virtually or in person.

Sarah is the founder of Sarah Stanley www.sarahstanleyinspired.com, faith+food+fitness. When Sarah isn’t running or cycling she enjoys creating new recipes, taking a hot yoga class and traveling. She’s been featured in various media outlets such as SHAPE, Ladies’ Home Journal, Washingtonian and SELF. Follow her on Twitter http://twitter/sarahstanley and Instagram http://web.stagram.com/sarahstanley_/

Marathon: The Insider Scoop Written by Kristie Cranford

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Marathon: The Insider Scoop Written by Kristie Cranford

A marathon is not only a physical feat, but a mental one. The best way to have a great race is not just to train, but to prepare.


Train within your ability. There are a numerous training plans available.  Find one that fits you.  Don’t be afraid to consult with a Coach.  No matter your ability, it never hurts to have a professional help you along the way.

Train at race time. Plan your long runs the same time and same day of the week as your race. Your body has a memory and will learn to run the distance at that time.

Experiment. Try energy gels, sports drinks, try it all. Get it down to a science and find out what works for you.  Train with what sports drink and energy gels will be provided at the aid stations on the race course. If while experimenting you find they do not work for you, plan a way to carry your own.

Train for the course. If it is a hilly course, don’t do all your training on flat surfaces. Even better if you can train on the actual race course. 

18 Mile training runs will drive you batty. Ask anyone. 17 miles, 19 miles, even 22 miles, no problem.  18 will drive you bonkers.  Just accept it, tackle it and run 18.1 if you have to.

Have a dress rehearsal. On a training run wear what you plan to wear in the race, fuel and hydrate like you plan to race day. If something isn’t right, you’ll have time to make changes before race day.

You will go crazy. There will be a time when your training tapers down that you will experience what has been called: Taper Madness, Taper Crazies, or Taper Tantrums.  Whatever you call it, all your nervous pent up energy will make you a little looney and edgy to say the least. Having a good friend to talk to will really help during this time. 

Carb load does not equal a car load of food. While experimenting, you should have figured out your best meal for the night before a long run.  Eat what you know is tried and true the night before the race. You do not want to be searching for a porta potty on the race course like a heat seeking missile.

It’s code. Call it superstition, or an unwritten rule, NEVER wear the race shirt in the race.

Relax. Race day you know what to do. You’ve trained, experimented, prepared. So relax and enjoy the marathon. When you’ve finished put on that race shirt, slap a 26.2 sticker on your car, and wear your medal with pride. You ARE a marathoner.

This article is written by Kristie Cranford, CPT. A wife, mother, cancer survivor and competitive athlete, Kristie is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer as well as a Running/Triathlon Coach for PRSFit Nation. Living in Las Vegas, she is the Chair of Long Distance Running for USATF-Nevada Association, Coolibar sponsored athlete, and Raw Elements Sunscreen Ambassador. Contact information:
Email: CoachKristieLV@yahoo.com, www.prsfit.com, http://coachkristie.com

Essentials of Running your First Marathon by Jim Lynch

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Five Essentials of Running your First Marathon by Jim Lynch

So, you’ve finally decided to run a full marathon. Congratulations!  First and foremost, you will need to train a minimum of six months before your marathon.

Here are 5 essentials to successfully completing your first marathon:

Believe.  A marathon is 26.2 miles, no more, no less. If you get in your car and drive 26.2 miles you will think to yourself, how in the world will I ever be able to run this far?  Guess what…you can! Many have done a marathon that thought they never could. It’s a very self-rewarding accomplishment. Just believe you can do it and you will be 50% of the way there.

The Proper Running Shoe. There are many theories on running shoes. Most wear them, some don’t.  Since you are running your first marathon, get yourself a good pair of running shoes. Don’t try to save a few bucks; your running shoes are vital to overall successful running and especially running a successful first marathon. If you have a local running store in your community, they will hook you up with the best pair based on your personal running form.

Train, Train and Train. Take your training serious and be consistent. If you have a local running group, join it.  You’ll meet professional coaches, as well as like-minded runners who will help you develop a training plan. Training with others makes the process an enjoyable experience. Stop by your local running store for running group recommendations.

Once you have your plan laid-out, follow it as if your life depended on it. You will slowly build up your mileage and reach benchmarks along the way. Eventually you will build up to 20-mile plus training runs. Logging miles into on-line programs such as Runkeeper, MapMyRun, Daily Mile or LogYourRun is also helpful and will boost motivation as you see the miles compound.

There are many components to marathon training such as nutrition, fluid intake, performance gels, hill work and speed work. By belonging to a running group or reading on-line articles, running blogs or running magazines, you will get acclimated quickly and understand what these mean, and how important they are to a successful marathon.

Target Your Marathon. Choose your first marathon to be a well-established race that has a proven positive track record. Go to www.marathonguide.com for a list of all marathons and read comments from people to get a feel for their experience. Marathons are popular these days and fill up fast when registration opens, so once you find one you believe you’d like, register early! 

Some first-timer marathons worth consideration are Chicago, Twin-Cities, Houston, Disney and Phoenix. The Rock N’ Roll series also have some great well-run marathons.

Preparation. When you finally register for your first marathon, book your flight and hotel right away. Having these details confirmed in advance, will allow you to focus on your training with no worries before race day.

Finally, to really understand what a marathon is like, pick up the DVD, “Spirit of the Marathon.”  It will speak to you.

 Crossing the finish line of your first marathon will change you forever!

Jim Lynch is a Runner and author of One Foot in Front of the Other – expected to be released in fall of 2012!  Jim has completed 87 marathons and is certified for completing a marathon in all 50 States plus DC. Jim Lynch may be reached via @authorjimlynch on Twitter and http://www.facebook.com/authorjimlynch  If you sign up for updates at Jim’s website at http://www.authorjimlynch.com you will receive free the first chapter of his upcoming book. You may also read Jim’s blog published twice weekly at http://www.authorjimlynch.com/blog