Marathon training advice

Well today I finished my final double-digit run before the marathon. Since last Sunday I've run nearly 49 miles! But now it's all downhill from here, nothing more than 9 miles, and aside from that seriously easy short stuff for my taper. Two weeks from tomorrow is the big day! As it nears, I'll post more about my expected outfit and finish time so that if you're in the area and plan to watch the race, you can cheer me on. In the meantime, now's your chance to help me out. Have you run a marathon? Do you have any advice for me? I know the main points: sleep well the night before the night before, eat well, etc. But anything else I need to know? Thanks.

48 thoughts on “Marathon training advice

  1. Hi! I found your blog recently via, uh, I can’t remember. Anyway, I have run 9 marathons (but never NYC. Boohoo). Remember to carboload and don’t wear brand new shoes (but don’t wear super old ones, either). Don’t do anything that you haven’t done in training. I try to carry a packet or two of GU with me, since they never have it where they say they are going to have it. I also might carry some hard candies for when you need an extra little sugar boost. Oh, you might have more chafing than you have experienced, so I suggest you lube up around your waistband, under your arms, on your thighs, under your sportsbra, etc. Okay, after you finish (and you will!), make sure to eat something. Replace the electrolytes by drinking Gatorade or something like that (I started drinking Energice). I find potato chips go down pretty well.
    Okay, I am clearly blabbing. Most importantly, HAVE FUN and listen to your body. Have a great time!

  2. hi meg! the best i’ve done was a 1/2 marathon, so i admire you for running the marathon. i’ll be cheering you from the online sidelines. best wishes. and have a good run!

  3. oh, advice! when i ran my 1/2 marathon i studied the 1987 NYC Marathon in which Ibraham Hussein of Kenya won the men’s division. i believe around the 20 mile mark he suddenly appeared out of nowhere and blew away the lead pack.
    so, it can’t be stressed enough that you really want to take it very easy during the first 10 miles and slowly push. the last 10 miles you can really start to push it, only if you feel the energy to. never force yourself too much, and most of all, have fun! :0)

  4. i ran my first marathon in the rain and wore a garbage bag the first 22 miles. the lesson learned: anticipate and prepare for any weather conditions. while rain may bum you out, at least you’ve contemplated what you will wear and how you will handle the situation. i finished soggy and exhausted — but with a great big smile on my face.
    good luck!

  5. Drink plenty of water prior to the race. Staying hydrated through the race is important, but you can save time by passing some water stations. No beer or wine. Water or Gatorade. Even if you aren’t thirsty now, drink some water.

  6. * Enjoy it. The thrills of crossing your first starting line and then your first finish line won’t be forgotten, and likely won’t be matched in future races. The first is the best. Smile for the cameras at the finish line. Then expect to laugh or cry hysterically.
    * Stop at a thrift store this week and buy a disposable pair of sweat pants, shirt, sweatshirt, wool cap and pair of gloves. You’ll shed the sweat pants right before the race — runners throwing their warm-up clothes into the air is quite a scene, in spirit and in appearance like graduates tossing their mortarboards — and then shed the other layers as your body warms up en route.
    * Sleep well the night before? Forget it. You’re going to be too amped up, and you’ll be waking up every hour for fear of missing your alarm. Instead, focus on banking sleep all week and especially the night before the night before.
    * I’m ambivalent about writing your name across your chest. I did it for a few races but don’t anymore. For a few miles it’s pretty neat to have hundreds of strangers encouraging you on by name, but then it gets annoying. (In my latest race I even avoided running near runners with names on their chest, because hearing “Go, Bob!” and “Go, Jane!” a hundred times was giving me a headache.) And once you’ve hit the wall and have started to hallucinate, it won’t matter, because you won’t remember what your name is anyhow.
    * You’ll be OD’ing on adrenaline for the first five miles. This will tempt you to run faster than you want. Don’t. You’ll regret it later. Make your goal to run the second half faster than the first.
    * That said, line up beforehand at a pace faster than you intend to run. Everyone overestimates their pace (or underestimates it, as it were) and cheats forward. You don’t want to get stuck behind a mass of slowpokes. If this happens, don’t panic. Just consider it a forced moderation. Whatever you do, don’t weave between slower runners. That’s an excellent way to pull a groin (speaking from firsthand [firstgroin?] experience here). Be patient. Holes will eventually open up.
    * Hydrate a lot throughout the week, but don’t overdo it the day before. And that morning don’t have more than a glass or two of water/Gatorade. (Despite following my own advice, I ran Chicago this month and had to spend 20 seconds peeing against a tree during Mile 6. It came back to haunt me when I finished exactly one second shy of qualifying for Boston.) Then drink at every station, whether you’re thirsty or not (by this point you’ll be sweating it out, not peeing it out).
    * Don’t overdo the carbo loading. This is the mistake I made my first few marathons: I pigged out on pasta, rice and bagels, and then felt bloated for the race. You want about 70 percent of your calories to be coming from carbs that last week, but your overall calorie intake shouldn’t go up from your regular pattern. (In fact, it should go down a little bit, since you’re not burning as much during the taper.) Eat normal-sized portions. And keep in mind that it takes 24-36 hours to digest those important complex carbs, so your most important meals will be Friday dinner and Saturday brunch, not the night-before dinner.
    * Eat about 300 calories that morning, 2-3 hours before the starting gun. I usually have a piece of toast and two bananas. Make sure you’ve practiced this routine before several training runs.
    * Pocket some salt packets. If you cramp up, pop one of these (water chaser optional) and you’ll be fine (mineral imbalance is a cause of cramping).
    The only thing marathoners love doing more than running is giving advice about running, so if you’re wondering about anything else, just ask.

  7. Meg,
    I have nothing to add to Luke’s excellent advice, but after my two marathons, I have attended spinning class the day after the race. It was difficult and slow-going, but I recovered very quickly. No pain, very relaxed muscles, the return to running was easy as well…perhaps the change in motion is good for the legs?
    Best of luck!

  8. I haven’t run a marathon, but I volunteered to help out at 2 London marathons, and I would reiterate the advice about chafing. I saw far too many people with bleeding nipples those days.

  9. Congratulations on your first marathon! Yes, I’m congratulating you now, because the hardest part is behind you. I won’t add anything to Luke’s excellent advice – I’ve run/walked three full and two 1/2 marathons – as he’s hit on all the high points.
    The only thing I’d add is a little bit of perspective. You’re not going to win (which, I’m sure comes as no surprise to you) so don’t overly worry about your time. You’ll be running through 26.2 miles of the most amazing city on the face of the earth. Take advantage of the special perspective on the city that the race will afford you. Pick up a recyclable camera this week and carry it with you on the course. You’ll be amazed at the sights you see and will want to capture some of those memories on film.
    I’m off to DC later this week for my first Marine Corps Marathon and will be thinking of you. Take care, good luck, and have fun!

  10. A few other first-timer things I thought of on my run this morning (see what I mean about marathoners and advice?):
    * Savor the soreness afterward. Each creaky step will be a reminder of all your hard work. Once you’re ready to feel like a normal person again, cycling/spinning is a great recovery activity. Also, a massage will never feel so good or so well-deserved. And don’t neglect the weight training: I recommend seated arm curls, mugs of Sam Adams with the right arm, handfuls of chocolate-covered peanuts with the left.
    * Drinking on the go can be tricky if you haven’t practiced it before. Most people have success folding the cups into a V. But don’t be afraid to walk through the water stations (Jeff Galloway is a big proponent of regular walking periods).
    * There aren’t a lot of good running movies. I prefer “Gallipoli” to “Chariots of Fire,” but it ends on a downer. Both of those, however, are about sprinter dorks. For long-distance inspiration, it doesn’t get any better than “Rocky II.” (Watch this on the treadmill sometime. When Rocky goes for the run with the children you’ll unwittingly start increasing your speed. By the time Creed hits the mat you’ll be doing 12 mph and won’t even have noticed.)
    * Prep your fans for what colors you’ll be wearing (red is easy to spot) and when to expect you wherever they’re planning to be.
    * Chris is right about perspective, and he nails it vis-a-vis the hardest part being over with. It’s not these 26.2 miles that are the test. It’s the 500 miles leading up to them. And remember that no matter how fast you go, it’ll be a PR. What’s more, about half the Kenyans will drop out once they’re out of contention, so just by finishing you’ll have beaten them.
    I think that’s it. G’luck! Break a leg!

  11. My first was Chicago, two weeks ago, and it was amazing. It’s true that is difficult to hold back for the first miles– you’ll be passing people, and that’s fun, and the crowd and your adrenaline will have you stoked. I ran with friends, and they kept reeling me back. I was glad that they did. Sports Gel was a big help for me– I went through six packs of Gu, and took Gaterade at every stop. Obviously if you haven’t been using gel or spots drink in your training you won’t want to now, but some hard candy couldn’t be a bad idea. I took a couple of Tylenol at about mile 15, and really didn’t experience the sort of muscle pain I had during our long runs. Maybe it was the Tylenol.
    Probably the best thing we did was to race test the clothes we were going to wear. Good luck! I was surprised at the end by what an emotional experience it was, and I’m sure you will have a grand time.

  12. heya meg –
    having run a marathon or two i can say that luke knows exactly what he’s talking about. have fun, don’t overdo the carbs, forget about sleeping the night before and more than anything else it’s about everything you’ve done up to this point and not so much about the 26.2 miles and sweet jesus don’t “start fast” due to the adrenaline of the race, as you’ll regret it around mile 20.
    that said, i disagree with luke about putting your name on your chest. i found that it really helped get through the last 3 miles, although i suppose whether or not it has the same effect on you depends on your personality.
    oh and don’t forget your terry cloth headband.

  13. I, too, just ran the Chicago marathon and it was my first. I was quite suprised that it was such an emotional and fun experience. For me, the hardest part of all of it was actually the 20-mile long run a few weeks beforehand.
    I have to agree with just about everything Luke mentioned. I had trouble sleeping the entire week before it, and only slept 5 hrs the night before — and yet, I wasn’t drained.
    My friends ran it as well. One of them thought he was holding himself back too much and wasting energy doing so. He took off around mile 3, but only finished 20 minutes before me. It probably would have been less had I not stumbled upon another friend at mile 23 who really needed some moral support and someone to finish with. We ended finishing strong with a near sprint on the last .2 but my “fast” friend was completely wiped out.
    The crowd and all the runners were so supportive. I had my name on my shirt. It really helped me the whole way — it made me smile at times when I didn’t know I could. My friends thought I would get sick of hearing it and I can see how experienced runners may not need it, but deep down, I’m really just a big attention whore.
    And, here’s my nugget of wisdom. You may have already learned this untold rule of running by now; it’s something I learned the hard way early on. Make sure to take a poop when you wake up.

  14. I ran a 10 miler this past spring as my first race.
    I ran with some friends who were more experienced, but were willing to keep my pace, so I had company the whole way.
    We got water at ever stop and walked the next 30 to 60 seconds. I can’t emphasize enough how much these little pitstops helped.
    Good luck and have fun!

  15. I never ran a marathon, I want to try to run Paris marathon next april … trying to motivate myself to run, I believe this is the hardest part : getting enough motivation to go out for hours and run, the idea of finishing a marathon is on the other hand a great personal reward … really don’t know if i’ll do it

  16. In no particular order:
    1. Try not to worry about the too much beforehand, although everyone I know (myself included)feels a bit crazed during the week leading up to the race. It’ll all go away on race day. Really!
    2. Lots and lots of Bodyglide. I caked both feet in it… it does help.
    3. Go out slow, slow, slow. You can always pick it up later on.
    4. Tired of Gu? Gummi Bears. They taste SO good right around Mile 20.
    5. There are a plethora of bloggers who run. Read Hollie’s marathon story (2003): and proceed from there.

  17. I’d stay away from Bodyglide or the like on feet, actually. It is more likely to create blisters, since your feet will not breathe and will slid in your shoes. If you haven’t been having a problem with blisters, you probably won’t on race day.
    I do recomend the WrightSock Anti-Blister System, which worked well for me and the other members of my running club– but you should stick with what you have been running with for now.

  18. 0) Don’t do anything radically different that you did on your long runs.
    1) If you are running the correct pace, it should feel like you are loafing for the first 6 miles or so. With the crowds in New York, that shouldn’t be
    a problem.
    2)I disagree with Bill (above). I always use vaseline on my toes to prevent the blisters you get when they rub against each other. It also helps prevent blisters when it’s rainy or your feet get wet for other reasons (sloppy water station technique).
    3) Don’t wear anything that hasn’t been through the wash a half dozen times.
    4) Have someone meet you at prearranged spots to give you dry clothes or to take extra layers.
    (Finisher of 6 marathons)

  19. I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon next Sunday. As an athletic person who competes in basketball tournaments and runs quite a few roadraces – but never before a marathon – I’m surprised at the nervous wetness of my hands, the butterflies in my stomach.
    I’m SCARED!
    I know I can finish the run, but I also know it’s going to hurt. But more than that, my longest double-digit runs have always taken me beyond myself in a scary and exhilarating way.
    I mean, a half marathon (I ran one this summer) is not half of a marathon, it’s more like a third, at least it feels that way six days before my first marathon.
    A marathon is a whole ‘nother enchilada. I can’t account for how my thoughts stray to the upcoming race everytime they’re not tied down elsewhere.
    It sure is nice to read the postings here.
    And to the guy thinking about training for Paris. Good for you! Think about joining a group. I joined AIDS Marathon for the Marine Corps, and it has been fun and a positive experience. I wouldn’t be running the marathon without my association with them, plus I raised a bunch of cash for a good cause.

  20. * Go to the Expo early. It’s packed on Saturday, and getting your number takes a long time. During the week is much better.
    * As already noted, get a good night’s sleep on Friday night. Getting a good night’s sleep on Saturday night, too, would be nice, but I’ve never managed it.
    * You’ll probably be waiting around in Staten Island for a couple hours. Bring something to read. A newspaper or magazine that you don’t plan on keeping is best.
    * Can’t stress the Bodyglide enough. Armpits, thighs, neck. I’ve never had a problem with toes, but you should know from your long runs if that’s an issue for you.
    * DO NOT STOP YOUR WATCH AT THE FINISH LINE. You will look silly in the photo. Run through it (with your arms raised in triumph if you like). Stop your watch after you pass the cameras.
    * Remember to drink before you get thirsty, and eat your energy bars (or gels or whatever you’re carrying with you) before you think you need them.
    * Unless you’re really dehrydated, or it’s really hot on race day, don’t stop for water in the last 2-3 miles (certainly not after you enter Central Park, which is about mile 24). Your body won’t absorb it fast enough to help much, and it can be hard to start running again once you stop.
    * Rather than spin the day after the race, I’d recommend swimming or deep water running. You loosen your muscles up a bit without putting any pressure on the joints.
    * Put your name on your shirt. If you decide you don’t like people calling out your name, you can always move towards the middle of the road and nobody will bother with you.
    * The New York Flyers have a useful spectator’s guide ( which shows what time a runner of any pace will pass each mile marker. Dowload the relevant one and send it to all your friends (or post it here) so they’ll know when to look for you. It makes it much easier for your friends to see you and cheer for you.
    * High five all the little kids along the route. It’s fun.

  21. wear clothes that you’ve worn before. eat food that you’ve eaten before. no new things the day of the marathon! the sleep you get two nights before the marathon is more important than the sleep you get the night before the marathon. don’t be afraid to smear vaseline on your thighs. take it slow at the beginning – run the second half of the marathon faster than the first half. plant supporters along the route – it gives you something to look forward to (esp. around mile 22). afterwards, soak your legs in ice-cold water – does a world of good. best of luck!
    sara (2000 & 2002 austin marathons)

  22. Here is a mental exercize you might try during the race. It’s something that I did for my training partner the last time I ran a marathon.
    We had done a lot of long training runs on the same route. It had good mile markers, so I knew where the landmarks were in relation to the mile marks.
    At 20 miles I told her, “OK, we’re on the path heading in, picture it”. For the rest for the race I kept telling her where we were in relation to the path — “We’ve got 3 miles to go, we just went over the bridge by the golf course”, etc. Because she had run strong workouts over that route, she could picture herself running strong to the finish.

  23. Thanks so much for all of these tips, there’s lots of good advice here. It’s getting me even more excited for the big day! 🙂

  24. I did New York for the first time last year (and my first marathon). I LOVED it. Brooklyn is a total blast. so many neighborhoods, really enthusiastic crowds, even the tough hill after BAM is super fun. The toughest part is the south bronx (fortunately very short), where I was nearly hit by a thrown bottle from a housing project. Also, the port-a-potties there are pretty gross. You might consider having someone at mile 18 or mile 23…to either start you off on the bronx or help you finish it well (there’s an awesome billboard in the bronx though…or there was last year, to keep you going). Central park is fun but not easy. and running on central park south was like in a dream.
    I recommend the name on the shirt…you feel like a rock star when all the cute hipster boys of brooklyn and manhattan are yelling your name!
    I’ll be there cheering my friends. Have a wonderful time. You can definitely finish it, don’t be afraid to walk in your first marathon.

  25. I’ve completed four marathons, and in each one I walked the first minute after each completed mile. Early in the race, you feel like a real dork, but over the distance, it makes a big difference in your level of fatigue because after each mile you’ve changed your stride for a bit. Those minutes also give you a chance to collect yourself, which you’ll no doubt need from about mile 20 on. You’d think those walking intervals would hurt your time, but you make up the time by being fresher in the late miles. I ran a 3:57 in Philadelphia despite 25 minutes of cumulative walking. Good luck.

  26. I’ve not run a marathon, but I’ve been there for friends doing it. What I learned when Jenn did the Dublin marathon:
    Mile 22, people look great. Mile 23, people look like animals. For some reason, there seems to be a difference. You will make it through!
    Skittles. These are the secret yummy candy. We had some from the US when Jenn did the Dublin marathon. She was happy about it when I appeared around mile 12 to feed the Skittles to her.
    Kick ass! So proud of you for doing this.

  27. You will do fine! I ran my first marathon Sunday in San Francisco. To the excellent advice already posted, I would add: Be sure to drink plenty of water for at least five days before the marathon, even if this causes inconvenience while traveling. You can’t remedy dehydration in just 24 hours. If you want to drink alcohol (Deena Kastor, the U.S. Olympic bronze medalist, swears by a glass of wine every night), which you might if you have trouble sleeping in the days before the race, then drink two extra glasses of water for every alcoholic drink to counteract its dehydrating effects. As you taper, you will become antsy — this is a good thing; it means you will have lots of energy for your race. Resist the temptation to do more exercise than is in your tapering plan. Most of all, enjoy your race — it is the capstone of all the training you have done, and I envy you the chance to run in New York City!

  28. Hi Meg,
    I’ve run 5 marathons in the last 6 years. Last year, I ran NYC and it was my fastest. And it was the most fun! Here are some tips (sorry for any repitition with others):
    * I still subscribe to petroleum jelly, tho I hear BodyGlide works just as well. Put it all around your toes before putting your socks on, around your wasteband, and the edges of your sportsbra.
    * Try not to wear cotton. Find some of that moisture-wicking material for race day socks, shorts and sportsbra. Less chafing and moisture!
    * Very important! Put your first name on your top — so that fans can cheer you on. Some people think it would be weird to have strangers cheering you on, but it’s a huge pick-me-up for me, unless you have enough friends to line the entire course.
    * In the little running shorts pocket, carry the following: 3 Starbursts (for when you need a little sugar kick late in the race), 5-8 Advils (in case of any light pains you get, that you can work through), chapstick (if you’re like me and chapped lips could annoy the hell out of you for the whole race). Take 2 Advils at the start, to get you off to a good start on the pain front, and pin 2 GU’s to the inside of your shorts. (They’ll rip off on the outside, and you probably won’t need 1 until at least mile 16.)
    * Don’t wear brand new sneaks. Ones that have been broken in for 2-4 weeks are perfect!
    * Drink at least a bit of water or Gatorade at EVERY drink station. Don’t wait until you get dehydrated, or it will be too late.
    * Don’t start out too fast. Start slower than you think or feel you should. There so much adrenaline at the start that if you’re not conscious of this, you’ll undoubtedly start too fast. My fastest race times have come when my first 5 miles was slower than I was shooting for.
    * Have fun! Smile and respond to the crowd. Especially in New York!!
    * Plan a great dinner reservation 2 hours after you finish running. And plan a lengthy massage session either immediately after the race, the next day, or both!!

  29. Not sure if those who’ve commented are still following this thread, but I’m wondering about the advice to use petroleum jelly or some kind of lubricant. I haven’t had any problems with chafiing or blisters during any of my runs. So I’m wondering if I need to use it, especially since everyone says don’t do anything different on race day. Is the rubbing something that starts after 20 miles and I just haven’t experienced it yet because I haven’t gone the full distance? Any further advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

  30. my personal opinion is that the “don’t do anything different” rule should trump all others. in my experience, if you’re prone to chaffing it’ll show up before 20 miles and if you would have probably had “issues” before this point. weather (temperature and humidity ) greatly affects the propensity for chaffing so if you’re training in cooler weather and suddenly find yourself running in hotter weather, i might be concerned, but i don’t think you’ll have this problem.
    good luck!

  31. The petroleum jelly thing sounds like a penthouse letter. If you needed to slather yourself in lubricant, you’d probably, well, be in a porn movie.

  32. I’ve never had blister issues, but I still put some PJ between my toes for a race. Don’t really notice it one way or another, but I don’t think it can hurt you even if it’s you’re first time using it, as opposed to, say, running in a new pair of shoes or in a new singlet.
    The only chafing I’ve ever had was in my first marathon, when I burned below my armpits, so now I spread some Bodyglide there and between my thighs. You probably won’t have any problems that you didn’t encounter on your 20-milers, but keep in mind that
    a) yes, it’s 6 miles and 385 yards longer;
    b) you’ll be going faster (you always trained a minute per mile slower than your goal pace, right?) so there will be more more blister-inducing friction;
    c) you might have trouble keeping good form by the end of the race, so parts of your body may rub together in ways they haven’t before.
    So, short version: It’s hard to anticipate whether lubes will help, but they probably won’t hurt, so go ahead and slather it on.

  33. I never used petroleum jelly: I used Bodyglide. At least, for my non-feet parts. Bodyglide is wonderful: very non-greasy. I recommend it even if you think you won’t need it.
    I did have sore feet at the end…the form thing became an issue. If I had to do it again I would try some petroleum jelly on my feet. The best thing I ever did was wear non-cotton socks! helps a TON. You might also want to have a friend stationed about half way or on 1st avenue with a different pair of socks, just to change (if you are not freaking out about your time).
    those extra six miles do make a difference.

  34. the reason for a change of socks is that I very often, when drinking water on the run, spill it on myself or others spill it on me…its not a big deal if its a little water but if your feel get wet, you don’t want to run 13 more miles with wet feet right? I stay away from sprinklers for the same reason….your mileage may vary on this point.

  35. I agree with Jen on the Body Glide. It is a great product and it would be a safe bet to use it. You can find it at any running store.

  36. Meg,
    I think Eric’s advice that the don’t-do-anything-different rule trumps all others is right on target…especially with regards to the Vaseline question. If you haven’t used petroleum jelly up to this point and haven’t had problems with chafing, I’d strongly discourage you from trying it for the marathon.
    If you find that, for whatever reason, you encounter some unexpected chafing, take a quick stop in one of the medical tents and grab some Vaseline there. Often, you’ll even find medical team personnel stationed at various points along the course with tongue depressors covered with Vaseline for the runners. Just be careful not to eat the Vaseline…I’ve seen some people think it’s Gu; the result is not a pretty sight!
    Have a great run! Feel free to write directly if you have any other questions.
    P.S. If any Marines happen to be reading these comments, I’d like to send out a big thank you for all your help at the Marine Corps Marathon yesterday. You all were amazing! OO-Rah!

  37. Bodyglide might be good, but I know from experience that if I didn’t have vaseline and bandages (I’ve near chafed my nipples off), I’d be a very unhappy camper. It is a little gross to talk about, but I make sure to slather PJ on all surfaces that have potential to rub against each other. I usually don’t use it for my practice runs, but it’s true, you’ll run the marathon faster and for more distance than you’ve ever run before, and that little difference could be huge.
    But again, people have different body types. I have very thick legs, and my thighs rub against each other when I run. I have to slather up, whereas my brother has skinny legs and doesn’t use anything at all.
    Aieessh. The first marathon I ran, at around mile 24 there were very grim looking folks holding cotton swabs with huge dabs of vaseline on them, and my friend who was waiting for me at the end said she saw folks with tops dripping with blood from chafed nipples. Uschgk.

  38. Chafing doesn’t afflict everybody, but it can make your day miserable. The jokes are funny. The chafing is not.
    I remember running the Marine Corps Marathon, which for those who don’t know it is staffed–and staffed wonderfully–by uniformed US Marines. About mile 16, I was behind two young women who accepted daubs of lubricant from a soldier working the mile marker. One woman looked at the other as they trotted away and said, “Never imagined myself taking vaseline from a Marine I’d just met.” Even at mile 16, we had to laugh.

  39. If your longest training run has been about 20 miles, i’d recommend putting either petroleum jelly or baby powder on your feet, and being sure to wear wicking socks. You may still get blisters in the last few miles and even though you’re almost done at, say, mile 22, it’s harder to push through that when your toes hurt.
    i’m sure you’ll do fine, and NYC is probably a great first marathon. Relax and enjoy. And get a massage afterwards!
    -Amy (2 marathons & counting)

  40. I will be running New York this weekend as well… it’s my first and after going to the Marine Corps this past weekend I’m super excited for this weekend!! I just wanted to tell you good luck and thank everyone else who has given advice. It’s GREAT.

  41. Cool! I ran Chicago this month…one of the best things I have ever done. Totally worth all of the hard work. I ended up using petroleum jelly but didn’t get any until after the third mild. By then I had severe leg chafing that hurt like a mofo. The only bad thing about PJ is that it tends to stain dri-fit clothes. So keep that in mind. I hear bodyglide is great stuff. So excited for you. Good luck!

  42. I have thick legs and use Bodyglide. I find that it really isn’t noticeable after the first minute of running.
    I can’t say that I can agree with the sweeping statement that you shouldn’t do anything different from your training runs. It may be true as a general statement, but I think it mostly applies to substantial differences, and that is tenuous at best.
    Personally, I took my wife’s mini with me during the marathon. I’d only used my ipod and that was only when I was stuck running inside on the treadmill. I’d never used the mini nor its great armband. Yet, I took it on the marathon and everything was fine. I talked with my friends most of the time, but when we separated for a bit the mini was my companion. It caused a little chaffing on my arm which I put up with for a little while, but I eventually grabbed some of the vaseline they had on cardboard and slapped it over the spot and all was well.
    So, I did 2 things that I had never done on my training runs: Used a mini ipod with armband and used vaseline. Without either, I would have had a MUCH more difficult time finishing.

  43. The information provided here is great. I’ll be a first-time marathoner in Little Rock (March 05). I’ll be doing my first double digit training run (ever) this Saturday. One issue I’ve been having is lower back pain (and I’ve had the nipple chafing issue, which my wife thinks is amusing ;o) ). Any suggestions or thoughts on the back pain? I’m confident it has to do with the mileage I’m loggin now, that I never used to put in. Could it be my choice of shoes? I don’t run on pavement a whole lot, so I’ve been using a cross-trainer. Thanks for any help.

  44. Make sure you get enough sleep TWO nights before the marathon. The night before you will be nervious and excited, making it hard to sleep.

  45. Thanks for all the great tips and information, I’m sure it will help. This thread is now closed.

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