How To Run A Marathon With Style & Grace
I'm a marathoner, as you can see from the photo above. I love to run more than anything but 26.2 miles is grueling and can turn a lady savage. When you're running with a herd of marathoners in the tens of thousands (like the ING New York City Marathon), don't let your manners or zen mind fall by the wayside. Instead, race with class and finish strong by following the 30 tips listed below.
30 Easy Tips For Running A Marathon With Style & Grace
- Connect with spirit and emotion to the city you're running in. If you plan to run the ING NYC Marathon, sing Frank Sinatra's New York, New York at the top of your lungs when it plays over loudspeakers near the start line. Don't be embarrassed, let loose and just go with it.
- Don't push others in your race corral before the start of the race. Yes, it's crowded and you're anxious to start...but what's the rush? You'll be running for a couple of hours anyway.
- Smile and be kind to international runners. Represent your country positively and make friends (even if they don't speak your language).
- Focus on the road ahead but don't forget to look all around you. Take it all in and appreciate what you're doing.
- Pace yourself during the first 30 minutes of your run. No matter how excited you are, DO NOT SPRINT.
- Discard extra layers of clothing by lofting them off to the side of the race path so that other marathoners don't trip over them.
- Keep in mind that your "disposable" layers will be collected for the homeless so wear something re-usable and try to keep it clean.
- Don't obsess over how many miles you have left to go. Instead anticipate city landmarks, water stops and friends you plan to wave to along the way.
- Show charity runners love and support (they're the ones in matching t-shirts). They spent lots of time raising funds for amazing causes and deserve your praise.
- Smile nicely at the cameras commissioned to take your picture for the race. If you flash a cheesy grin or look like you're dying, you won't like the photo. It took me 4 years to get a marathon shot that I wasn't embarrassed to show around and all it took was smiling normally directly at cameras.
- Stretch your arms out to each side and pretend you're an airplane. This will make you feel invincible when your body starts to hate you.
- Don't be anti-social. Talk to other runners around you. You're in it together!
- Watch out for banana peels! I'm not joking. Bananas are handed out to hungry runners and unfortunately the peels end up on the race path.
- Don't toss your banana peel along the race path...that's SO NOT COOL! Find a trash can or leave it on a water table.
- High five and cheer back at spectators. They love feeling like they're apart of your journey.
- Drink lots of water and Gatorade but don't gulp it down too fast to avoid obscene burping and stomach aching.
- Don't throw your water cup at volunteers when you're done, instead aim for trash cans. They're volunteers--be nice!
- Fuel up with GU or similar energy products but don't go overboard on race day because too much can cause constipation...Uh Oh!
- Don't be rude to spectators handing out lollipops. They're just trying to help and don't know any better (lollipops, really?). If you don't want their candy just smile and keep running.
- It's fine to run with earphones in, but pop them out when you hit major spectator areas and listen to the roar of excitement. It's a huge adrenaline rush, as much as your favorite upbeat song.
- Avoid stopping abruptly in the race path. If you need water, have to puke or in my case, just want to send your mom a text message, veer off to the side of the road. If you stop abruptly you will initiate a domino effect.
- Whatever you wear on race day, just make sure it has a comfortable waistband, lining, sleeve or degree of tightness. There's nothing worse than painful chafing and not being able to do anything about it for 26.2 miles.
- If you want to move ahead of runners in front of you, wait for a space to open up that's wide enough for you to pass through and be careful not to elbow anyone.
- Say thank you to at least 1 volunteer after the race.
- Put your name on your shirt and make sure it's easy to read. Spectators will scream your name out and you'll feel like a celebrity. You might even run faster!
- If you see someone fall, stop to help. They'd do the same for you.
- Don't crisscross the race path. Remember there are always people behind you.
- Compliment a marathoner on an outfit or getup they're wearing that catches your attention. Half the fun of race day is spotting crazy themed costumes. Thank these folks for having the foresight to entertain you.
- Inspire others and share your enthusiasm on race day, especially if you're a repeat runner. The guy's shirt in the photo below gave me a blast of energy when I needed it most. Luckily I captured the moment with my Blackberry camera but I still totally owe this dude a hug.
- Resist hugging other marathoners while they're running. A thumbs up will do just fine.
Many thanks to marathoner friends who contributed tips to this list.