35 Tips for Your Best Marathon

If you’re like me, the week before the marathon brings the taper crazies. Anxiety and nerves tend to take over a previously strong body and mind. Instead of giving into my nerves, I reached out to the experts, my friends on social media, for tips and inspiration. While Sunday’s Berlin Marathon will be my fifth marathon, I believe I can always learn something from those around me. These 35 tips will help you prepare mentally for the big day along with ensuring you have everything on your packing list, including some extra Vaseline or Glide! Thank you, thank you for all the tips, positive motivation, emails, and thoughts this week!

If you love this list as much as I do, please share it or pin it so others can benefit too!

35 Tips for your best marathon

“Enjoy the moment! We don’t HAVE to run, we GET to run!” Amanda @ Run to the Finish

“For every negative thing that slips into your mind, think of two positive things!” Marcia @ http://marciashealthyslice.com

“Don’t expend energy trying to zig zag pass others at a crowded start. It helps you not take off so fast at the start as you are likely to with fresh legs.” Jolene @  Http://www.jojocouture-southernfriedsoul.blogspot.com.

“Find a mantra to pull your mind from the negative thoughts as you tire. My favorite is "Yes I Can!" Angela @ http://happyfitmama.com

“Never underestimate the benefits of doing a few sets of quick butt kicks in the marathon to jump start your legs and muscles!” Michelle @ www.pawsitivelydelightful.com

“Even though the start is exciting, DON’T go out too fast!” Lauren @ http://www.breathedeeplyandsmile.com

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable because the sooner you get used to the feeling, the more you can enjoy the race.” Katie @ http://gettinmyhealthyon.com/ Ashley Hoffman Forster

“Get a good night’s sleep the night BEFORE the night before the race. You probably won’t sleep the night before the race because of nerves, so make sure you bank a little sleep two nights prior.” Ashley @ http://fiddledeeme.com

“Enjoy your race and trust the training. Even when it’s sucking, you’ve put in the hard work. Time to reap the benefits! You’ve got this.” Rachel @ http://www.runningonhappy.com;

“Know that it’s 100% okay if you DON’T cross that finish line if your body is telling you that, as much as your heart is still in it, today just isn’t the day! It’s heartbreaking to rack up a DNF (or maybe even a DNS), but there will be other races!” Mindy @ http://justaonegirlrevolution.com

“Know that there will be ups and downs, especially in the later miles. When you hit a low moment, ride it out a little bit slower, and know that you will come out of it and have a chance to pick up the pace again when you’re feeling better.” Amanda @  http://misszippy1.com

“Have fun and be confident. Your training brought you here, and now it’s your 26.2 celebration to success… you deserve it more than anyone, so go get it!” Lora @ http://www.crazyrunninggirl.com

“Enjoy the journey and have fun even if your race starts going in a different direction than you hoped. You must with with endurance the race before you…even if that means taking walk breaks.” Erica @ http://lifeasarunningmom.blogspot.com

“Make the race joyful. The hard work and training is already done so it’s time to let loose and have fun! High-five kids, thank the volunteers and police officers, read all the spectators’ signs, look at all the costumes, joke with and cheer on your fellow runners! One other suggestion. I’ve never tried this myself, but other friends swear by dedicating each mile to a special friend, relative, or colleague while running!!!” Emily @ http://emmers712.blogspot.com

“Don’t be sick and be on antibiotics but if you are, take probiotics. Your stomach will thank you. Signed, the one who was sick for 20 of 26.2 miles and vomited at the finish line for her one and only marathon.” Melissa @ http://www.thevalentineRD.com

“1) always trust your training; 2) don’t start too fast and 3) when you find yourself starting to fade (or in my case, thinking WTF is wrong with me for putting myself through this), remember why you started and envision the finish line – usually that is the little boost I need to get me to the end.” Kasandra @ http://urbaninsuburbia1.com

“Run your race – don’t get caught up in what others are doing. Just do you!” Kelly @ http://www.kellytheculinarian.com/ 

“Use Vaseline generously in any possible chafing areas!!!” Amy @ http://www.livinglifetruth.com/

“Never wear anything new on race day and start slow and build your race.” Pam @ http://www.werundisney.com/

“However good some advise may seem, stick to what you know and what you trained with, don’t change your plan too close to the race.” Laureen @ http://peachylau.wordpress.com

“Have your name printed on the front of your top in large letters, the buzz you will get from the crowd shouting your name will give your legs a boost when they are tiring.” Nikki @ www.runninggirlslim.com

“Step one to running a marathon, you start running. There is no step two.” Barney Stinson (Thanks to @vkandersdc (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_-RDyxaJ1E)


“Remember that race day is the celebration of all your hard work, effort, and training you have put in. Smile, laugh, have fun and enjoy every moment of it – even when it hurts!” Leah @ www.naturallyleah.com

“When it’s really tough and you can’t remember why you signed up to to run 26.2 miles for fun, just remember, pain is temporary, pride is forever.” Zoe @ www.londonandme.org

“Put Vaseline EVERYWHERE. Race day is meant to be fun – during the run and celebrating after – now is not the time for friction burns in awkward places!” Jenn @ http://club.runthrough.co.uk/author/jenniferjane2/

“Don’t get wrapped up in the wave of runners around you, find your own pace to feel your way through 26.2 miles and enjoy the experience.”  Becs @ http://thestyledynamo.wordpress.com/

“Remember to start taking fuel and water early because once you feel thirsty or hungry, it’s too late.” Ashley @ www.healthyhappierbear.com

“Don’t think. Just Run. Save your music for the second half.” @jengaude

“Lots of positive thinking and visualization up to race day.” @kararuns729

“Let go of all your goals out there, smile, have fun, if you feel good speed up and if bad slow down!” @mbsthinks

“Do not eat date pudding the night before!” (or anything new for that matter) @catTBowen 

“At mile 23, remind yourself that you have less than a Modern Family episode to go!” @kristineciard

“Believe you can do what you set out to achieve, no matter what.” @paleorunmomma

“Run with your heart, not your mind.” @chicrunner

“Each mile is a gift. The second you start counting down, you lose the opportunity to take it all in.” @krissymmurphy

Your turn! What tip is missing from this list?


Berlin Marathon Training – Week 2

It’s finally here. In less than 6 days I will have the opportunity to toe the line of the Berlin Marathon and enjoy every single second of the experience.


I could lose myself in all the questions and anxiety leading up to Sunday’s race but instead, I’m focusing on using my energy in a positive way. I spent 30 minutes on last night’s flight making a list of the things I want to do before leaving for Berlin so that I have the best experience possible.

  • One final speed workout – 6 x 400 meters (CHECK!)
  • One final massage – 60 minute sports massage focusing on my lower back, hips, hamstrings and calves. (CHECK!)
  • Call to confirm flights, hotel accommodations, boat tour. (CHECK!)
  • Download Berlin Marathon app on my iPhone and Bo’s so we have all the information at our fingertips. (CHECK!)
  • Review the course profile and read all the race recaps on Pinterest (CHECK!)
  • Make beet juice for Thursday & Friday. (Thursday AM)
  • Pack my carry on bag which will include everything on the handy, Berlin Marathon packing list AND everything I need for pre-race breakfast and snack.  Double check that full marathon outfit and all chargers are packed! I am carrying my bag on versus checking it so there is no risk of it getting lost.  (Thursday)
  • Reach out to experienced marathon runners to get their tips for running the best marathon possible and compile in a post for readers. (Thursday)
  • Stretch out all the last minute nerves and tension with a hatha yoga class. (Thursday)
  • Sleep at least 9 hours. (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night)
  • Finalize playlist for the marathon. (Friday)

That seems like a ton but I am sure I’m forgetting something. What did I forget?

Now that we’ve reviewed everything I need to do this week while not running, let’s take a look back at last week’s taper.

There are a lot of excuses I could make for last week between the travel to the United States and some other stress. But, at the end of the day, I’m focusing on the other 12 weeks of training which were super strong and my half marathon performance versus focusing on last week. Life goes on.

Monday: 60 minutes of hatha yoga practice

Tuesday: Five mile tempo run along Lake Geneva

Wednesday: Rest day including 14 hours of travel from Geneva to Atlanta, Georgia.


Thursday: I got over the jet lag with a quick 30 minute speed workout in my friend’s apartment gym including 5 x 1000 meters at 7:30 pace.

Friday: Raj showed me new areas of midtown Atlanta including the Beltline Path during our 6 mile run. It was a perfect shakeout run though not as long as my training plan’s prescribed 10 miles.


Saturday: Easy 2 mile run before a day filled with coffee, bagels & lox, a great football game, and 2 pumpkin beers. I’m pretty proud of myself for limiting the alcohol in Athens because it would have been really easy to use it as an excuse and enjoy ALL the pumpkin beers.

Sunday: Rest day including 14 hours of travel from Atlanta to Geneva.

Positive – I ate really healthy, even with two days of travel and lots of celebrating and merrymaking in Atlanta & Athens.

Negative – I fell short on the mileage.

Your turn! What is your #1 tip for a great marathon?


Semi-Marathon de La Cote Race Recap

This morning I woke up bright and early for the Semi-Marathon de La Cote. I signed up for this half a few months ago when I saw that it was on the same day that my training plan called for 13 miles. Since this was the race’s inaugural year, I didn’t know what to expect.  However, the website promised gorgeous views during the point to point run from from Allaman to Nyon.imageSince my starting block didn’t start until 10:39, I was able to sleep until 7:30. I spent the next 45 minutes foam rolling, stretching, sipping Nuun and coffee, and making sure I had all my gear. Mary volunteered to meet me at the train station and spend the morning cheering along the course. We spent the 30 minute train ride catching up while I enjoyed my banana, oats and the last of my Whole Foods Almond Butter.  IMG_2076IMG_2075

We arrived at the starting area with 30 minutes to spare (i.e. perfect timing).  The weather was cool, 60 degrees and a bit overcast, which is perfect running weather in my opinion. Mary hugged me goodbye and headed back to the train so she could cheer further along the course. Luckily she made some friends on her way back to the train station.

After saying goodbye, I ended up making friends with some guys from Geneva Runners before moving into my starting block area. The organizers did a great job with the starting area making sure there were plenty of bathrooms, clear signage for the bibs, bag storage, and the starting area. Like most other Swiss races, they also had a warm-up area where participants could participate in a dynamic warm-up. Each block started three minutes apart to keep the course from becoming too congested. IMG_2077

IMG_2080 IMG_2086I used this race as another opportunity to test my marathon race day outfit. I’ll be wearing this entire outfit, from head to toe, in two weeks for the Berlin Marathon. It has served me very well! As the group before us crossed the starting line I realized I had three minutes to figure out how I wanted to treat the race. Would it be a long run or would I use it as a confidence booster? I knew that the course included a flat to downhill start followed by gentle rolling hills for the middle miles and a gradual climb between miles 8-10.

Instead of stressing out, I decided to take a deep breath and just let my body and legs choose for me. Instead of a time goal I vowed to do two things: not walk and not allow a 7 minute or 10 minute pace to show on my Garmin. Those are two paces that were far too fast or slow for a strong training run, regardless how strong or weak I felt.

At 10:39, on the dot, our group crossed the starting line.

IMG_2087 The views were absolutely breath taking. I turned on my playlist and just let my legs and heart do the work. My legs felt incredible and I had to hold myself back when I saw the number 7 show up on my Garmin. I told myself that it was important to hold back if I wanted to last the entire half marathon.

IMG_2088 IMG_2089 IMG_2090 

The splits for first 5k, the downhill portion, were fast but manageable. I felt so good that I skipped the water station at the 5k point as I’d barely sipped any of my water. For the rest of the race I took water at each of the water stations, 10k and 15k.

Mile 1: 8:39

Mile 2: 8:41

Mile 3: 8:50

As I entered the middle miles I knew that I should see Mary once or twice and could use the rolling hills to slow my pace. The miles flew by as I spent time watching the right hand side of the road for Mary and enjoying the lake views as the path took us through small villages. IMG_2093

I saw Mary for the first time around mile 4, just past this sign. It was so fun hearing her scream my name and wave to her with a huge smile on my face. I felt absolutely fabulous!

ashley 9kI told her I’d see her farther up the course, continuing on along the gravel path. I recognized parts of the course such as Rolle, from day trips we’ve taken previously. The course didn’t have many spectators but there were always people in the small towns cheering from their door steps and windows.

Mile 4: 8:52

Mile 5: 9:11

Mile 6: 9:20

Mile 7: 9:23

Mile 8: 9:12

I started watching the right side of the course just past the 9 mile marker, knowing that Mary was going to cheer around the 15k point. I actually saw her before she saw me, noticing her Cigar City Brewing Company shirt out of the corner of my eye! Ashley 15k

I still felt great at this point though I was starting to get quite hot. The course was now in the full sun, save for a few trees here and there. I told myself that this is when I typically become weak during a race, telling myself I need to walk. While I fully respect people who can walk run a race, today was a day when I wanted to prove I could run the entire course, pushing through the tough spots. I noticed the gentle climbs in my thighs and hamstrings but felt strong, considering my pace. Once passing Mary I knew that I only had 4 miles left, less than 40 minutes. In order to make sure I didn’t get into my head, I switched my Garmin to watch mode.

Mile 10: 9:37

Mile 11: 9:30

Mile 12: 9:22

Mile 13: 9:46

As I passed the 20k point I told myself not to start sprinting as I didn’t want to risk pulling or straining anything. The energy of the crowd pushed me through as I crossed into a small park and stadium, towards the finish line. I crossed the finish mat, pushing stop on my Garmin and then continuing through the finish line in search of some much needed water, banana, and medal.

IMG_8066 IMG_8067I looked into the crowd, in exhaustion, to see that Bo and my co-worker Ema were cheering at the finish line. IMG_8068I was hot, sweaty and exhausted but my watch said 1:59:57! After years of months of hard work, I broke 2 hours.

IMG_2097 According to DataSport, a few minutes later, I saw that my official time is 2:01:23. Note to self, do not stop until you cross all the finish mats. Oh well, 2:01:23 is a 2 minute PR versus the Geneva Half Marathon.

While some people said that racing a half isn’t smart just 2 weeks before Berlin Marathon, I know myself better than anyone else. This race was exactly the confidence booster I needed before the marathon. I didn’t walk one time, my fueling strategy worked perfectly, my music kept me motivated and anytime my body started to ache I reminded myself that it’s a normal feeling during a race.

Today I ran the strongest half marathon ever and I owe that to the Run Less, Run Faster training program and the motivation of all of you! You’ve told me that I’m stronger than I thought for years and finally, I believe that too!

Bring it on Berlin, I’m ready and more pumped than ever before!