Marathon Advice to a Newbie

Photo taken back when I was fab, just before my very first marathon—I knew nothing.


  • Avoid the pre-race carbo load. It'll put a wad of gummy sludge in yr gut that will buy you nothing. And you'll be thinking of how to take a dump before race start. A better plan is to have no solid food [finished & done] after 5pm the day before the race. Relax wherever you are staying--home or maybe in that hotel you mentioned. Stay off your feet. Plenty of time for that later.


  • Thurs: 64 oz of mango nectar mixed w/ Carboplex-interspersed w/64 oz water
  • Fri: 64 oz of cranberry juice mixed w/ Carboplex-interspersed w/64 oz water
  • Sat: 32 oz of Gatorade mixed w/ Carboplex-interspersed w/32 oz water

You can find the Carboplex at General Nutrition or a similar bodybuilding emporia. At the end of this load you'll feel like a cross between Godzilla and a drag-racer jumping the blocks on a 1/4 mile straightaway.

  • Get there at least 2 hrs before the start. Park on the outside of the lot if possible. You'll want to escape when its all over, and so will 20,000 of your best friends.
  • It may/will be chilly when you get out of the car. Ignore it if it's sunny, but don't lose track of the weather. Take whatever crap you are going to need before you get to tthe start area. I'll guarantee there will be lines longer than anything you've seen. If you have to take a leak in the parking lot behind a car--do it.
  • Roll your sox on, then tie your shoes. This is a good first step to prevent blisters. I only wished I'd known about it before I ran my first marathon in 86.

  • barring thunderstorms etc it will probably be sunny and breezy. This is good. Remember that the majority of the course runs east/west, and is south-facing. You will be warmer than you might think in the pack, so sun protection and shoulder pro is a good idea.
  • Wear a light cap of some kind. If need be you can rotate the cap to protect the back of your neck, which will keep yr core temp down.
  • Don't worry about what the elite runners are wearing doing. They're many pay-grades above you
  • If you don't have a single-bottle waist belt, get one. Do not count on the aid-stations being completely stocked when you get there. Remember your 20,000 friends?
  • Have an extra car-key, a $10 bill and maybe your cell with you. If you got it, you won't need it.
  • Gatorade/electrolytes are your friend. A blunt first-aid item is a small container of salt that you carry in the prev-mentioned waist belt--like you are doing tequila shooters. Lick the thumb, salt the thumb, swallow, and drink the water.
  • You may hurt more than anything you've ever done before. Barring a broken leg or a gunshot wound, dropping at 18 miles will not buy you relief. You'll just hurt while you're figuring out how the fuck to get back to the finish line.
More to think about:
  1. Your quads will hurt because that's where you store glycogen, and you will probably blow thru all that. That's why I've been talking about Carboplex [powdered maltodextrin] mixed w/ Gatorade as a race-drink supplement. With the carboload schedule I mentioned earlier, it'll provide you with a caloric cushion to get you thru most of the race.
    It is not an act of Gawd, fate, or misfortune. It simply signals the uncomfortable transition point between burning glycogen and fat. And the body is not designed to give up fat easily.
  3. NSAIDs [ie aspirin, tylenol etc] are not candy. They mask pain, but are not cures. If you are gobbling them, then you have a serious problem that has its origins well before the race, and its time to quit.

Finally--the aid stations are run by volunteers who mean well but probably will outweigh you by at least 1.5x. As fucked up as you might feel, do not rely on them for in-depth medical advice. The discomfort you are feeling is minor [trust me on this one, barring flu, the shits or the previous ailments]. Drink up and get out!

OK. Congratulations!

Your recovery starts at Minute 1.
Now, get to the car, and open that cooler I mentioned earlier. In that cooler there will be a 20oz bottle w/ cranberry juice mixed w/ protein powder. Drink up, you earned it. Jump-start your recovery.

Also, a jug of water {to quick-rinse), a towel and a change of clothes will be really nice for the trip out of there. Plastic bags for all of your skank wear. Nobody is going to pay any attention—they'll be dealing with their own fucked-up runners

Go home. Put your feet up, take a load off. As much as you'd like to hit the beer/champagne/whiskey-vodka coolers, I don't recommend it. Save that for when the recovery process is more fully realized.


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