Essentials for Running a Marathon

Don't set off on your lengthy run without first checking if you're mentally and logistically prepared.


By Nora


Are you training for a marathon or half marathon this summer?

What to pack

  1. Water. It is extremely important to hydrate on long runs, especially as we enter the summer heat. Consider carrying several small water bottles with you (there are a number of hydration belts available for runners these days). If you don’t like the feeling of carrying water as you run, plan on stashing a few water bottles at key points along your run the day before. Just remember to pick them up after you’ve finished – you don’t want to litter! 
  2. Fuel. It’s a good idea to plan on taking in some calories every 45 minutes or so during your run. This could be in the form of energy gels, shot bloks, or even jelly beans! Plan how you will carry your fuel, whether it is in a belt, pouch, or pocket of your running shorts. 
  3. GPS watch/device/app. You will definitely want to keep an eye on your pace and mileage during your run. Be careful to start out slowly and ease into your desired pace. Remember, the higher mileage will already be a challenge for your body so you you may not want to focus on speed as well. 
  4. Sunscreen. Chances are you will be running in the sun and you’re going to be outside for over an hour! Protect yourself from an annoying sunburn by using a sweatproof sunscreen before you hit the pavement. 
  5. BodyGlide or another anti-chafing ointment. Nothing spoils a run more than chafing – apply it to common problem areas like under your arms, inner legs, and under your sports bra (if you’re wearing one!). 

Other important Considerations

  • Your breakfast (or pre-run meal). Before a long run, it’s best to focus primarily on carbohydrates and go light on proteins and fats, which take longer to digest. A bagel with a little nut butter or oatmeal with a banana are both good options. 
  • Try to get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your long run. You may feel a little nervous the night before and not sleep very well (I always get the jitters before a race!) As long as you’re well-rested leading up to your run, this shouldn’t negatively impact your performance. 
  • Plan your course.  Consider what will help you mentally. If you’re going for a 20 miler, you could do 4 loops of your favorite 5-mile route. Thinking of your run as only 4 loops may feel a lot more manageable than 20 miles. On the other hand, if you’re worried that you might chicken out partway through, than an out-and-back approach might be better for you. 
  • Load up some new music or podcasts. You’re going to be running for a long time so try to think of ways to keep your mind occupied and your attitude upbeat. I personally love when a new song comes on while I’m running; it always gives me a nice mental boost. Other people enjoy listening to inspirational podcasts. Experiment and figure out what you like best! 

And lastly, remember to have fun! Yes, running a marathon (or half-marathon) will be a challenge, but there’s nothing like that incredible feeling of accomplishment after you’ve pushed your boundaries and run farther than you ever had before. By the time you've crossed the finish line, know that you've done something pretty amazing and you should celebrate that fact after!

Nora began blogging after she and her mother ran their first half marathon in 2012. They loved the experience so much, they decided they would make it their goal to run a half marathon (or marathon) in every state. You can read about their journey and progress on Nora's blog 2 Generations Running.

Main Photo Credit: lzf/

May 22, 2015

I shall one day run you half marathon... one day.

Jun 5, 2015

its work and not much of a race time ul get it...

Jun 6, 2015

Great post. 👍 I like post-marathons sensations! 😄🏃🏃🏃