4 Strategies to Prepare for Your Best Marathon

Who wants to avoid bonking in a race?  What about in a marathon? Yes and yes.  “Bonking” as it’s so affectionately known is also called “hitting the wall” – when you literally run out of steam during a race.  As a runner, you never, ever want to even see this wall!  If you’ve been there, you know exactly what it means and hopefully, you train (and race) just a little bit smarter to avoid hitting the wall.

Preparing for your Best Marathon
4 strategies to prepare for your best marathon

Below, you’ll find tips to get you from marathon start line all the way to mile 26.2.


Know what nutrition you’ll be taking during the race.  Races are sponsored by companies such as Gu, Powerade, Gatorade, etc and are giving their specific runner-friendly nutrition.  Do some research and know what they’ll be using.   Practice using it during workouts and long runs. Don’t expect your flavor to be on the course even if they said it would be.  Bring your own with you or use what they give you, knowing that it might upset your stomach.


In the weeks leading up to your big race, start hydrating.  Don’t wait until 48 hours beforehand to start.  And of course, limit or restrict your beer and alcohol consumption.

Preparing for your best marathon
Preparing for your best marathon

During the race, know exactly when and where you’ll take in fluids.  Practice this during your training – learn how to run and consume liquids (it’s hard, but with practice can be mastered).  You’ll save valuable time by drinking and running rather than having to walk through a water station.


Yes, during race week you should eat balanced and healthy.  But here’s a little secret: if you eat healthy all the time, you don’t have to “worry” and fret that you need to eat healthy on race week.

Get caught up on your complex carbs! Know that if you hydrate correctly and eat appropriately that you might gain a pound or so because you’re not running as much as when you were in heavy training. Don’t change your diet to combat a potential gain in weight.  Everything stored will be used during race day.


There are lots of strategies to use when tapering for a marathon.  You’ll need to do some research and trial and error to determine what works best for you.  If you’re not sure, ask for help from a friend or hire a running coach to help assist you in the training process.

Prepare for your best marathon
4 strategies to prepare for your best marathon

Tapering allows your body to recover and reap the benefits of all the training you’ve done.  It’s important to relax and not let the “taper-crazies” take over.


On race day, plan on fueling (hydrating and eating) throughout your race to combat “bonking”.  Consume both water and sports drink as well as your preferred gu/bar so that your calorie deficit does not become too great.  Take care of your body and it will reward you with a performance you can be happy with.

Be sure to eat healthy throughout training, hydrate well (especially in the week of the marathon), and nail that taper by being calm and relaxed during race week.

Preparing for your best marathon
Preparing for your best marathon

There are plenty of other tips – what are some that you would suggest?  Leave a comment or tweet them!


Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach
Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach

I am a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!


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