*SPECIAL* Blog Post

I know many people running with Twin Cities and Chicago Marathons this weekend. I’ve done TC 3 times and Chicago 4 times, and here are my top 8 tips for having your best race possible:

1. Keep the calories coming in. Weather is going 2B cool – somewhere around 40 degrees at race start. Many people don’t realize that in cooler temps (<50) your body actually has to burn additional calories just to stay warm. So, if you don’t want to be hypothermic during the race or after crossing the finish line, make sure you’re getting the standard 200-400 calories/hour (based on body weight).

2. Minimize vertical oscillation. The best runners translate their energy forward – not up and down. It’s easy to start bobbing up and down when you’re running at slower paces (which you will be at the start of the race) and while 1-2 inches of vertical oscillation may not have an effect at miles 5, 10, 15 – it’ll bite you in the ass at 20 or 25. Try to run as LEVEL as possible.

3. Run tangents. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line and if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to run 26.5 miles+ because you’re zig zagging all over the road. Try to pick a line and stick to it.

4. Take any free speed you can. Downhills are free speed and this applies more to the TC Marathon than Chicago, which is pancake flat. But, if you’re pacing yourself appropriately, you should be going slower on the uphills and faster on the downhills. Example – if you want to run 8:00 min/miles, you should be doing 8:15s on the uphills and 7:45s on the downhills (just to throw two sample paces out there, not knowing the steepness of the hill). DO NOT watch everyone else putting on the brakes on the downhills – they’re the people who waste energy by going uphill too hard and don’t take the free speed when they can on the downhills. Let your legs turn over when going downhill.

Marathon Running5. Run to the end of aid stations. Most people will go to the first volunteers at any given aid station. It’s a lot less congested at the back, so I always continue to run until I get to the back of the aid station, then I veer in and grab whatever fluid/food I’m going to. Less chaos back there.

6. Pace yourself smart. Example – if you’re hoping to run a 3:30:00 marathon, DO NOT start out with the 3:30:00 pace group. You’re doomed if you do. You need to know where they are, but you should start a little bit behind them (call it a 3:32:00 or 3:33:00 start pace) and creep up as your body starts to settle into the race. Then try to hold on at the end. I’ve seen many athletes crash and burn by trying to hold onto a pace group from the very start.

7. Expect it’ll hurt like hell. Marathons usually hurt for ANYONE doing them, but this especially applies to those who are racing it and seeking a bangin’ time. A mistake many athletes make is to wish…and hope…and pray…that they’ll feel good the whole time. This almost NEVER happens and if you set yourself up with the false hope of feeling good start to finish, you don’t know what the hell to do if you start to feel bad. I always tell athletes – EXPECT that the race is going to hurt, but EXPECT that you have the confidence, determination and ability to overcome it. Trust in yourself and trust in your training.

8. Smile and enjoy it. Thank volunteers and people out there on the race course. Soak it up. In the grand scheme of things, the race goes by pretty fast. Savor the fact that we’re the lucky ones.


– SW