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Top 4 tips from successful marathon runners

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Running a marathon can be a lot of things. Intimidating. Painful. Exhilarating. Grueling. Life-changing.

While it may seem like a common accomplishment, running a marathon is not some casual experience you just wake up and decide to do that day (although there are surely some who have). Between training routines, logging miles, and nailing down a nutrition plan that will keep you properly fueled, taking on a marathon is a big deal.

26.2 miles is a long way to run, and your body will feel it. However, there are some key things you can do to strongly take your marathon to the finish line—and beyond. Here are some of the most frequently recommended tips for marathon runners for making your next race a success.

Cross-train

When training for a marathon, you might assume that all you need to do is train your body to endure many miles of torture by running a lot. While your body does need to grow accustomed to the miles ahead, strength training is recommended by many as being just as, if not more important, for enduring the rigor of 26.2 miles.

“I wish that I had prioritized weight resistance training a little higher as a cross-training activity,” said marathon runner Patrick Williams in an article for Runner’s World.

Dee Swarz, another marathon runner, featured in an article for Runner’s World mentions just how important your strength will be when you embark on running a marathon. “Strength work is even more important than the runs,” they said. “It’s going to be hard. Really hard. And you will want to quit. That is normal. Running 26.1 miles is not normal. It will be super hard on your body,” but cross-training can help you be ready for it in ways that running will not.

Get the food right

Nothing will make you more aware of what fuels—and what drags—your body than putting it through preparing for and running a marathon.

According to The Active Times, most people burn around 2,500 calories on average. So, it is very important that you properly fuel and hydrate your body before, during, and after the race.

When asked what the number one thing he wished he would have known before running a marathon, Ben Dilla in an article for Runner’s World said, “Nutrition! I wish I had realized how important race nutrition is during the run. I bonked at mile 19 because I ran out of calories. Now I take a Hammer gel every 40 minutes.”

Gels can be a great way to keep your energy up throughout the marathon. However, Wendy Rose Gould of NBC News reports that even though gels might be offered during the race, it’s best to stick to the ones you are used to. Trying something new in the middle of a race can lead to some—unpleasant—side effects, which is the last thing you want with miles to go and no bathroom in sight.

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Take care of your feet

Running 26.2 miles in ill-fitting shoes (especially new ones) can be one of the most painful decisions you can make when running a marathon.

After running several miles, feet tend to swell and shift in a shoe. If your shoe is too tight or doesn’t give you proper support for your foot structure, you could be in for a needlessly painful experience. If you’re going to put your body through 26.2 miles of grueling endurance, supportive, well-fitting shoes are a small investment in your success.

Bonus tip: Runner’s World suggests investing in some dedicated running socks for your training and the big day. Not your dad’s white tube socks, running socks are specially designed to help your feet feel great and stay well-ventilated throughout your race. They can even help prevent potential painful toenail issues.

Enjoy yourself

If you’re training for a marathon, great job! That itself is a great accomplishment. While there can be a lot of unknowns every mile of the race such as weather, broken sprinklers, or headphones that don’t hold their charge, the most important thing you can do on race day is to enjoy yourself. You might have to ditch some expectations along the way.

“Focus more on your body and how your runs feel during training rather than sticking so strictly to a plan,” said Andy Decker in an article for Runner’s World. “I trained way harder for my first marathon than I did for my second and I PR’ed my second by almost 20 minutes. Listen to your body and ENJOY the race.”

As for the finish line, there are few things like it. Months of training and pushing yourself will result in one of the biggest payoffs of your life. Once the day of the race comes, training is over. All you can do is the best you can do.

“Enjoy the whole distance,” said Maranatha Poirier for Runner’s World. “The starting line is exploding with excitement, anticipation, and nerves. The finish is thrilling and exhilarating. Unless you’re in it to win it, say ‘hi’ to people along the way. Cheer each other on. Say something nice to a volunteer. It’s an amazing experience; help make it one.”

Sign up for a marathon you’re sure to enjoy

The Deseret News Marathon is an annual race that’s been going on since 1970. This year, the marathon is on July 23 and will merge with the annual Days of ‘47 Parade.

This Boston qualifier race starts at the top of Big Mountain above Emigration Canyon and wraps up in the heart of Salt Lake City. Registration prices are less expensive the sooner you sign up! Here’s the pricing tier:

May 1 - May 31 - $90

June 1 - June 30 - $100

July 1 - July 20 - $110

July 21 - July 22 - $120.

For more information and to sign up, visit the Deseret News Marathon website.