preparing for a marathon – Preparing For A Marathon

Preparing For A Marathon


marathonIt’s marathon season, folks. Many are getting ready to run 26.2 miles during an all-day event in major cities around the world. Many popular and highly attended races are being held in the next month or so, including:

  • Chicago Marathon – October 9th
  • Baltimore Marathon – October 15th
  • New York City Marathon – November 6th
  • (Our very own) Harrisburg Marathon – November 13th
  • Philadelphia Marathon – November 20th

…And many more! The Boston Marathon, held on April 17, 2017, is the most highly sought-after marathon in the country. Very specific standards must be met in order to gain entry to this race and only a certain number of participants are granted acceptance each year. But good news! Our Aspire Harrisburg Marathon is a Boston-qualifier, so if you’re looking to head to Boston one day, this is a great place to start!


If you plan to run any of these marathons, local or not, it is safe to say that you have been training and running for months in advance to prepare for race day. 26.2 miles is quite the distance and takes much more than physical training to conquer these miles to the finish line – it takes a great deal of mental endurance and motivation, too.

Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to enter and run the Boston Marathon, said, “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” Marathons show much more than just the sport of running; they show human perseverance, determination, and power to push one’s self beyond his/her limits.

There are many tutorials, guides, and resources available to runners to train for and run a marathon. Whether it’s your first, second, or tenth marathon, training your mind and body is always an essential key to running the race. According to an article from Runner’s World, “The key to successful marathon training is consistently putting in enough weekly mileage to get your body accustomed to running for long periods of time.” It’s important, also, to make sure you are increasing your mileage as you reach closer and closer to race day.


Eating & Drinking

In addition to running, preparing your body for a marathon includes what you eat and drink. Runners Connect shares how an elite runner eats when preparing for a marathon. They suggest eating protein before and after your long-distance run in the morning, followed by a recovery drink and a full, protein-packed breakfast with whole grains to fill your belly. Various other meals are included in your day such as lunch, snack, another snack, dinner, dinner #2, and a shake before dinner, when training for a marathon.

When running high mileages and burning lots of calories, it’s important to eat a substantial amount of food – more food than you would if you weren’t training for a marathon. But making sure the food you eat is healthy and gives your body the protein and carbs it needs to fuel your runs, is also essential!

Try not to drink much the morning of the race, but drink as much as you need to the day before. “Alcohol consumption is generally not recommended the day or night before a race,” however, according to Active. Make sure to eat normally the day before the race, but don’t over-eat before going to bed.

Trial Run

In addition to long months of training, eating plans, and run schedules, Active provides runners with a step-by-step guide on how to run your marathon when race day comes along. According to Active, practicing running on the race course will help you immensely on race day. If possible, they suggest to “Run over the last half-mile of the course at least twice. This is the most important part of the course to know.” This “rehearsal” will help you feel comfortable and confident on the course the morning of the big race. Make sure you do not do this the few days before the race, as you should be letting your body rest.



Active also says to prepare for race day, make sure you pack your bags, clothes, and all supplies the night before. According to an article from verywell, here are a few tips to help you sleep the night before the race:

  • “To limit pre-race anxiety, make sure you lay everything you need out the night before the marathon. Remember the “nothing new on race day” rule. Your race outfit and race nutrition should all be items that you’ve tried out in training runs. Use this marathon packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything.”
  • “If you have to be up for your race at a time that’s earlier than you’re used to, try to gradually shift your sleep schedule in the days leading up to the marathon so that you’re going to bed and waking up earlier. That way, it won’t feel like a dramatic change when you try to hit the hay much earlier than usual on the night before your race.”
  • “Make sure you finish eating a few hours before you’re ready to go to bed. If you eat too close to bedtime, you may have a harder time following asleep.”
  • “Start winding down for bedtime early in the evening. Do something relaxing like reading a book, listening to soothing music, or taking a hot bath before turning in for the night.”
  • “Avoid watching TV or going on your computer or phone right before bedtime. Spending time on social media or playing computer games will make it harder to fall asleep.”

If these don’t work, verywell says not to worry, “You’ll actually be amazed at how the excitement of the race makes you feel awake and ready-to-go.”

In addition, Active suggests not to run the day before the race. “You won’t lose any conditioning if you take two days off from running leading up to the race,” says Active. Make sure you don’t push your body too hard that you enter the race exhausted and run-down – this is a long one, and you need all the strength you can muster!


You’re Ready!

And then it’s race day! Waking up, eating a normal breakfast, pacing yourself at the beginning and finishing strong will help you start and finish the race with excellence. Training and running a marathon is one of life’s greatest accomplishments and if you’ve signed up for a 2016-2017 marathon, give yourself a pat on the back! We wish you all the best on the day of your big race.

If you’re running the Harrisburg Marathon next month, this Boston qualifier offers a fast, flat race that can help you set a great personal record, while viewing the beautiful Harrisburg, PA!

Walkers start on City Island at 6:30AM and Runners and Relay Teams kick off at 8:00AM. The course map is recently redesigned here, and also features a post-race Red Block Party downtown sponsored by the Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District! So, even if you’re not running, come cheer on finishers in a huge downtown celebration as they run their final steps in the race!

Completing a marathon is quite the cause for celebration!

Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator

Want to stay up-to-date with
the latest exciting news and fun events?