Extreme Travel | Adventure Sports

How to… run marathons

With expert Dean Karnazes

If one man can represent the idea of endurance, Karnazes is it. The world’s foremost ultramarathon runner, he’s pushed distances further than biology would suggest possible. He’s completed 50 marathons in 50 states over 50 days. A marathon in Antarctica. 200-mile plus slogs are nothing to Karnazes. So who better for WideWorld to speak to about marathon running, preparation and endurance? Here are Dean’s ten brilliant tips to get you through the distance.

Preparation is key

Ironically, the best way to feel prepared for that first moment when the race begins is to have prepared adequately in the weeks and months prior.  Confidence comes from knowing you paid your dues and didn’t take shortcuts in your training and preparation leading up to that moment.

Don’t be afraid of pain

What starts hurting first depends on the race. Sometimes it’s the quadriceps, sometimes it’s the calf muscles, sometimes it’s the deltoids; after kilometre 35, it’s pretty much all of the above.

It’s not going to damage you

I’m not convinced you do any cumulative damage running a marathon.  I once ran 50 consecutive marathons in 50 straight days, and the 50th marathon—which happened to be the New York City Marathon—was my strongest of them all, which I ran in three hours flat (a pretty respectable time, even without having run forty-nine marathons in the forty-nine days prior).  To me, this seems to indicate that there wasn’t much accumulated damage.

Remember to do your business

It’s best if you can go beforehand.  Of course, that isn’t always possible (or practical).  Typically, there are porta-johns located along the course that you can use in a pinch.  Try not to wait until the last minute, which can be disastrous if there is a line.

Be ready for the wall

The proverbial ‘wall’ usually occurs around kilometre 32 to 35.  It was originally thought to coincide with the depletion of stored glycogen in the muscles; however, recent scientific evidence suggests that it has to do more with mental fatigue than any other physiological occurrence.

Protect feet and nipples

Apply liberal amounts of Body Glide, wear moisture wicking socks (not cotton), and make sure that your shoes are adequately ventilated.

Learn you fluid needs first

It really depends on the individual and the amount they sweat, as well as the temperatures on race day.  Some runners, such as myself, sweat very little and require less fluid than others, even when it’s hot out.  Learn how much fluid you need during training session.  Race day is not the time to experiment.

Take each step as it comes

Instead of seeking out milestones, I use a technique I simply call, ‘baby steps’.  Rather than looking at the mileage markers and thinking about the distance still left to cover, which can be daunting and overwhelming at times, I just concentrate on taking one step in front of the other to the best of my ability. This seems to work better for me than seeking out set milestones.

The finish will pull you onwards

Typically the gravitational pull of the finish line gives runners a boost.  I always feel better when the finish line is within striking distance.

Recovery time

If there are no acute incidents at the finish line—such as dehydration or severe cramping—typically the worst feeling is the next day, when muscle soreness starts to peak.  I always encourage people to go for a run the next day (more like a hobble, actually).  Even if it’s just a slow kilometer or two, it helps to flush the system out and reduce muscle soreness overall.

For more ultramarathon info and to find out when Dean is running to gowww.deankarnazes.com