So – you want to run a fast marathon?

Every once in a while I get asked for advice and tips on running, getting started in running and how to run faster. After my most recent marathon, I have met more runners and people interested in running and racing longer distances. My new friend Kate asked me today as she wants to qualify for Boston, how can she get ready to run a fast marathon. With a little thought, looking around at other tips out there I came up with my list. Here it is for you all to see and consider as you get faster and want to achieve those goals!

1. Choose a marathon training program. My fave is Hal Higdon – – as he has many levels to run – – Build and maintain a base of at least 40 miles per week.

2. Run shorter-than-marathon distance races, 10-kilometer to half-marathon. Do this particularly in the three months leading up to the marathon.

3. Include a tempo run once a week. After warming up, run approximately 20 to 30 seconds slower than your 10K race pace for 20 to 25 minutes. Include fartlek runs in your training once a week – – take 20 min and sprint those telephone poles!

4. Run long more often if you’re trying to go faster. Complete at least five to six long runs during the four-month marathon buildup. These should be in the 18-to 20-mile range. (Minimum long runs is 3 before race day)

5. Increase overall mileage from your last marathon training program. Good point is that it is always good to journal in one way or another your mileage to be seriously pushing for a goal time.

6. Put more uphill running into your training program. It will increase your leg strength. Trail running is also good for increasing leg strength, agility and concentration.

7. Choose a race to improve your time. This would be a marathon with a flat course, held during a time of year when you can expect good weather. I recommend DC, Chicago or Hartford, CT. Keep track of your times in training, pacing yourself with a Garmin, Seiko or other device that keeps track of mileage and pace. I personally like the nike plus for immediate feedback and simplistic use.

8. Experiment with special energy foods and carbohydrate drinks. These are designed to keep you running better for longer. This is best experiemented on long runs. I use GU and Shaklee Performance. Also look at recovery drinks that work for you to keep your muscles recovered and ready for the next run. I use Shaklee Physique. Be sure to do plenty of trial usuage before depending on it come race day.

9. Take a day off each week (Do something else if you can’t stand it! bike, weights, swim, yoga, etc.)

10. Taper your training (amount and intensity) beginning three weeks before the marathon. Very important to taper and take that one day off.

11. Disipline yourself to a training regime – even if it is to stick to a program. Look at what long mileage pieces are for the week and be sure you get (2) in per week – – and the other junk miles to be comfortble.

12. Remember that diet, hydration and mental health is important at the same time. Think you can, visulalize the finish – the race – the build up and get it done! This is a good place to mention that stretching is important to fend off injury.

13. Pace bracelet (know what that pace feels like) – – Get your bracelet or something to keep you on pace will help you make that time, research and be ready ahead of time. Here is a great place to get a pdf of your desired pace.

14. Be prepared on race day, race weekend – – don’t let any fluff factors that you mess things up! Stay overnight close to the race, plan your pre race regime, meals, and prep so nothing messes with your head. Recon is important to know the race course, the elevation changes and how tactically you are going to run each mile, building up to the finish.

Take it all in and always remember – – if you think you can, you can!

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Nancy Cook 2021

About Nancy

Nancy Peck Cook is a trainer and speaker who has presented in front of large and small audiences for the past 25 years.  Her work as an executive and volunteer trainer for the American Cancer Society during the growth of the signature activity Relay For Life trained professionals to be more confident and successful in their roles. 

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