Marathon Training Week 11: Your To-do List Before the Long Run

by Karl Gruber

It’s time for us to address some of the practical things that will not only help you in your everyday training, but also in racing your marathon. One of the beauties of running is that the basic concept is the freedom of the act of running. Want to go for a run? Put on some shorts, some running shoes, and head out the door or hit the treadmill – any time of day or night, no matter where you are.

On some of those runs you get a mile or two in, and you suddenly realize that, “Whoa, I am thirsty! I wish I had a water bottle with me…I sure wish I had some decent headphones…Yikes, this shirt is really chafing me! I should have grabbed a different one or put on some lubricant… Man, I knew I should have brought an energy gel with me! I’m starting to bonk.”

Rather than get caught in the middle of a run having issues, take care of the practical, simple things before you start. There is nothing worse than being stuck on a run with a problem, and knowing there is nowhere to stop for another 5 or 6 miles. For instance, one of the very practical things you need to take care of before you run is going to the bathroom. This not may be a topic in your usual conversation, but as a runner, you soon learn the value of this particular practicality. If you run at a particular time of day, perhaps you can get in a routine to take care of this issue. 

Since I am mainly a morning runner, I get up and have a cup of coffee before I start to stretch and loosen up. The combination of the hot liquid, caffeine, and stretching movements generally help with getting things moving in your G.I. system. Believe me, there is a reason why you see so many port-o-potties at races!


✓Quality bathroom time before your run
✓Sensitive skin areas covered with Vaseline or Body Glide, 
     tape or band aids
✓Hydration - If you don’t like to carry a water bottle when running, 
    make sure to drink plenty ahead of time and during the run (plan
    a course with water fountains)
✓Wear appropriate clothing – wear sweat-wicking polyester, spandex 
     or lycra instead of cotton that holds your sweat, stays wet, and chafes
✓ Nutrition for the long run - If you are running a short run, chances are 
    you ate enough the day before. Longer runs, however, require energy,  
    so carry energy gels like Honey Stinger to top off your fuel tank while
✓ Good running shoes – Don’t wait until you are out on a run to realize
    your feet and body are taking a beating because you are wearing bad 
    shoes! Run in top-quality shoes designed for your foot type and size
✓ Sunblock & Sunglasses – Yes, even in the winter the sunshine can be 
    very intense with a high UV index. Protect your skin and eyes
✓ Use the correct gear for cell phones and listening to tunes – This
    is something that can be very annoying and interfere with your
    running performance if you are spending time struggling with  
    headphone wires and not easily accessible cell phones.

These are obviously just some of the issues you may need to pay attention to before and during your training runs. Unfortunately, you may not even know that it is something you need to take care of until you are out on a run. Find out what all of these things are before your marathon, then you can simply focus on running well on race day, instead of dealing with the seemingly silly, little issues that can ruin your race experience.

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