A lot of runners get fit and set themselves up nicely for the event with great training. There are plenty of great articles written on how to do that. What I want to look at is how to make your training count on the day!
Pacing. It is just too easy to run too hard. Think about it. Race day is often the first time that you have gone out to run fast and not been tired in a long time, your legs will feel unreal. Then there is the fact that you probably have been training for this goal event for some time and really want to achieve it. Next you have your supporters who will encourage you to run fast and finally you might have a rival or two who you would love to beat. Don't get sucked into going out hard and trying to hang in there. Have a plan, get on your pace early and stay there. If your goal is to run a 3 hour time, seek out an experienced runner who is also aiming for this, you will find that in such a situation there will be a group who are aiming to do this. See the Marathon Pace Chart Article for intermediary times.
Be as efficient as possible. Efficiency comes in two forms. Internal and External. Internal is about being as relaxed as possible. Pressure can cause us to be very tense, and I see a lot of runners going out there and running with very stiff upper bodies and this is a lot of wasted energy. Try and use the least amount of energy for your chosen pace. External efficiency is running smart on the course. Run the shortest line around bends. Stay away from cambered and rough sections and don't push your intensity up while running uphill.
A key training method for marathon is to work your legs to develop muscle endurance, you want your legs to be able to still drive hard late in the race. On race day the opposite is true and you want to conserve your legs, that is make your muscle endurance last. To do this you need to 'sneak' up hills. In training you might try and maintain a decent stride length when running hills, but during a race try and shuffle up a hill by keeping your leg turnover high.
Down Hill Running
Rotorua is a classic for this. Many athletes suffer in the final 10km because the down hill sections have hammered their legs. If you are training for a hilly Marathon make sure when you do time trials that you do include some down hill running at race pace. You do need to be careful about when you do this, as there is a greater risk of injury, but make sure you have some hard downhill running. Also on the day you may want to think twice about hammering down the steep sections.
About the author of this blog post
Since taking up Endurance Training back in 1984, Coach Brendon, head coach of Endurancecoach.com, has been a leader in the development of the art and science of triathlon and endurance sports training, competition and coaching. He has held many top coaching positions including: Olympic Triathlon Coach 2004; New Zealand Elite Team Coach 2005; Consultant Coach to the Chinese Olympic Triathlon Team 2006; Member TriNZ High Performance Commission 2002-2005; Triathlon New Zealand High Performance Coach; Consultant Coach to Polar International. Many athletes trained by Coach Brendon have achieved podium success on the international sporting stage.
His personal sporting achievements include: 1990 New Zealand Commonwealth Games Triathlon Team; 1991 New Zealand Triathlon Champion; 1993 6th Ironman New Zealand and 8:59 at Ironman Canada; 1994 New Zealand Elite Team Member; 1998 2nd New Zealand Sprint Champs. Coach Brendon has a New Zealand Prime Ministers Coaching Scholarship; Level Two Triathlon Australia Coaching Accreditation; Level One Triathlon New Zealand Coaching Accreditation; Bachelor of Science degree and a Post Graduate Diploma in Physiology.
Endurancecoach.com believes that every athlete is different and therefore needs a training program geared specifically to their personal ability, taking into account any weaknesses, time available and circumstances. Endurancecoach.com offers a variety of services ranging from one-on-one coaching to training plans for specific events and races. Visit Endurancecoach.com for more information or if you are looking for world leading coaches to assist you, e-mail Endurancecoach.com at email@example.com.