Coach Lyons' Marathon Tips

The Woodlands

I'm running a marathon on March 5! The race I'm running has held a series of running presentations and this week, I attended Coach Dana Lyons' presentation. Here's what the coach shared with us about running marathons and especially about my upcoming race, The Woodlands Marathon (held north of Houston).


Before Race Day

  1. You don't need to load up with carbohydrates before race day. When he started racing years ago he needed to carb-load, but now you can get what you need on the race course. Still, you might like to bring a couple of gels to take in addition to the aid station Endurance Gatorade and gels (miles 10 & 20).
  2. Skip strength training, but do some core work the week before the race.
  3. The day before the race, run 10-15 minutes, snack on salty snacks like pretzels and eat an early dinner around 4 or 5 so that you have time to digest your food and will be able to have a good night's sleep.

On Race Morning


  1. Two to three hours before the race, eat a breakfast of 400-500 calories - maybe toast and jam or a liquid breakfast. 
  2. Ten minutes before the race, take a gel with 8-10 ounces of water.
  3. Wear shoes with 20-30 miles on them. Or at least don't wear brand new shoes!
The Race Starts Near Fidelity (The Presentation Location)

During the Race

  1. Run negative splits by starting out at 5-15 seconds per mile slower than your goal marathon pace. Speed up a little (a few seconds per mile) after a couple of miles, but don't run all out until you hit mile 20, which happens to be where a hill will be so that will be a fun section!
  2. Drink 16-24 ounces of water every hour. When you take gels, only drink water with them.
  3. Take in 100-200 calories and 25-50 carbohydrates per hour. That may mean you need to take two cups of Gatorade Endurance at each end of the aid station. 

I've run 17 marathons so far, but there's always more to learn. Coach Dana Lyons shared advice that I'll use on March 5.

  • No more uncomfortable carbohydrate loading for me! 
  • Eat more in the morning before the race. Before today's run, I experimented and ate more than usual: toast (PB & jam), 1/4 cup oatmeal w/brown sugar, 1/2 pop-tart and a cup of Gatorade. I wanted to be comfortably full. It worked!
  • During the race, drink plenty in order to stay hydrated on what is predicted to be a cold, but humid day.  

I hope that these tips will help you at your next race, too!


My Weekly Summary 

It's taper time! I ran 27 miles, biked, walked my dog and did a little core work.

Saturday: biked 45 min.
Sunday: rest
Monday: 5 mile run
Tuesday: 8 mile run
Wednesday: 4 Exercises to Improve Running
Thursday: 8 mile run with easy hills, surprisingly chilly so I layered on the clothing
Friday: 6 mile run (wore the clothes I'm considering racing in today), core work

Have a great week of running!


Comments

  1. I always eat an early dinner on race eve but that's because I go to bed early. Eating before the race is always a challenge for me. I never know how much or how little I should have. Don't want to be making unnecessary bathroom breaks...lol

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    1. I agree! I've been experimenting through my training with different foods, but I read a couple of my race recaps and considered what the coach said when I picked today's pre-run breakfast.

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  2. Great tips! Race morning fueling is always a challenge. I like his point about not strength training the week of the race.

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    1. Yeah,m I came across that point a few years ago - save your energy for race day!

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  3. I don't like gels, have actually never tried them. I am training for my first marathon and my fueling has been a combination of cliff bars + pretzels + drier apricots. And I always eat a relatively good breakfast with protein before the race. Else, yes, no matter the distance I will bonk. Good luck on your race !

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    1. Sometimes, I train with pretzels and apricots but I like the ease of gels in a race. Hope you have a great first marathon!

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  4. I don't know why but this post has me kind of excited to sign up for another marathon. I've been super happy with my plan to stick to shorter races for a couple years, but for the first time since I finished my first marathon I might actually want to do a second.

    Good luck this weekend!!

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    1. Thanks! I'm happy to hear you might sign up for your second marathon! That's great!

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  5. These are great tips!! I'm hoping to do my first marathon this year and will definitely take these into account. I always tend to start out too fast, something I need to work on! Good luck in your marathon this weekend!

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    1. Thank you! I There's so much nervous energy at the start that it's hard not to start out too fast!

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  6. The core work race week is a good tip. I always wonder how much strength work to do.
    Eating and running is still a challenge for me, and I think i will be only be doing short runs for awhile so I guess I will back to fasting and tucking this info in mind to use in the future. I hope you have a great race.
    Thanks for the post link- great exercises.

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you like the link and I hope you're running again soon!

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  7. 17 marathons!!! That's so impressive! Have fun in your upcoming one and thanks for sharing these tips!

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    1. Thanks! I ran my first marathon in 2006 - ten years ago. It has taken a lot of years to get to 18!

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  8. This is awesome and good luck! I always eat early the evening before. I normally don't like to eat late. I would say I try and lay my outfit out too but I normally don't. I race a lot (more shorter races) so it's less stressful.

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    1. I've started eating earlier on a regular basis, but it's not easy for me... I get hungry for a snack. I'm hoping it will help me to sleep better.

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  9. Good luck at the Woodlands full, Tina! I wanted to run that one when we were in Houston but never did. Your training has been solid, and these are awesome tips. I stopped carb loading as well- other than paying attention to a bit more in general over the course of the week, but nothing crazy.

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    1. Thanks! Maybe you'll get the chance to run it someday!

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  10. Good luck at your marathon. I always work on pacing towards negative splits too.

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    1. Thanks, I'd love to negative split this marathon!

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