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Final Month Advice

by Meghann on September 14, 2010

As you know, the Chicago Marathon is less than a month away. It’s been a brutal 16 weeks of training, but the light at the end of the tunnel is finally starting to shine through.

The last month of training for any marathon is where everything really starts to come together. Your endurance is already up there, speed training is starting to make a difference, and it really becomes a lot less about training the body and more about training the mind.

Now is the time to relax, take it all in, and just trust your training.

To ensure a great final month and to prevent any way of jinxing myself come race day I like to keep the following 5 things in mind.

1.  No more pedicures until after race day.

This is a piece of advice Bobbi gave me right before my first marathon and it’s one I still live by today. Think about it. You’ve worked hard to build those calluses around your feet, why smooth them out now? Those calluses are protecting your feet during your runs and with out them you’re likely to develop blisters and bloody toes. Imagine running a 20 mile run in new feet – not good. 

I suggest hitting the nail salon the week after and getting the full treatment, but until then skip the pedicure and just get a polish change instead. Trust me – your feet will thank you. 🙂

2.  Go on one long run by yourself.

Whether you’ve been training with a group or have plan of running with a friend, you just never know how you’re going to feel on race day. It’s better to do at least one long run (10+ miles) on your own ‘just in case.’

3.  If you need new shoes – buy them now.

Most people wear down their shoes while training for a marathon. The typical shoe should last 300-400 miles and, depending on when you started training, those 300-400 miles may be long gone. What ever you do do not wait until two weeks before the marathon to purchase shoes. Give yourself at least 3 or 4 weeks to break them in and make sure to complete at least one long run before race day.

4. Test out your race day outfit.

The week before my first marathon I was handed my purple Team in Training shirt and completed a 6 miles run with out any problems. The shirt was great for the short run, but for 26.2? Not so much. That was the only race I’ve ever ran where I was practically in tears over the chafing. Turns out the shirts arm hole were too baggy and kept rubbing under my arm pit. By mile 20 I wanted to cry from the pain.

I would suggest running your 20 miler in your race day outfit just to make sure it pasts the test. What works for a 6 mile run, may not work for another 20 after that.

5.  What- ever you do: Do Not Stress!

This is the time to relax. Trust you training and remember to have fun. Don’t worry if your taper week is longer or shorter than someone elses. Don’t worry if your training plan hasn’t been perfectly executed. And don’t worry if you didn’t listen to steps 1-4. This is your race – no one elses – and you will rock it. 🙂

I think that about covers it. Please feel free to add any of your own advice to the comments!! 🙂

My morning started with a simple 5 mile run and was followed by two slices of toast for breakfast.


One slice was covered with Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter, Raisins, 1/2 a pear and Granola.


The other had Almond Butter, Chocolate Chips, 1/2  a pear, and Granola.


This was too filling. I ate one and a half slices and gave the rest to Maddie ( the almond butter half minus the chocolate chips)


I still don’t know what to think about Gossip Girl last night. It should be an interesting season. 🙂

1 Brittany September 14, 2010 at 9:08 am

Although I’ve never run a full marathon I liked reading your advice. Thanks lady!

2 Madison September 14, 2010 at 9:17 am

Great advice! Especially the pedicure tid-bit. I can’t even begin to describe how much I want one right now… My feet look G.R.O.S.S!

I always find the week before taper to be the toughest…. Mentally and physically. It’s the highest mileage week and your body is already completely beat up! Right now, I’m dealing with one bad run after the other…. When this happens, I just go back in my training log and look at what I have accomplished up until this point! You’re absolutely right… TRUST YOUR TRAINING! 🙂

3 Freya (Brit Chick Runs) September 14, 2010 at 9:19 am

I like your advice 🙂 I’ve got about 6 or 7 weeks til my first marathon, so it’s good to know what to do 🙂
Freya (Brit Chick Runs) recently posted..Whole Foods- Take Two

4 Lauren @ Running Examiner September 14, 2010 at 9:24 am

Awesome advice! I completely agree that, in the month leading up to a marathon, your body is essentially “there”…your mind is what requires the extra attention!

So true about avoiding pedicures until after race day, too. A runner’s feet may not always be the most aesthetically pleasant thing in the world, but those calluses form for a reason. Plus, the post-marathon pedicure is always so nice, and well-earned. 🙂
Lauren @ Running Examiner recently posted..Hoboken resident competes in Ironman

5 Elizabeth September 14, 2010 at 9:47 am

The pedicure tidbit goes for pretty much anything. I used to dance competitively and made the mistake of getting a pedicure the night before a competition. I take karate now and can’t imagine kicks with fresh feet. Ouch

6 Madeline - Greens and Jeans September 14, 2010 at 9:47 am

Do your research and find out what sports drink and flavor they will be serving at your race! Nothing worse than ending up with something disgusting that you aren’t used to!

7 Meghann September 14, 2010 at 10:06 am

Good advice! Especially if you are traveling to another part of a country that serves something way different then what you have in your home state.

8 Kelly September 14, 2010 at 9:54 am

I agree with the no pedicures/test your race day outfit. I stay away from pedicures during all training pretty much.
Kelly recently posted..My First 5k

9 Dani September 14, 2010 at 10:07 am

Great post! and such perfect timing with run season coming up!

Never thought about the NO pedicures rule, but makes PERFECT sense!
Maybe only make sure to keep the toenails short bc if they get too long in that time may cause jamming into the toe and that causes BLACK toenails! which is NO BUENO!
Dani recently posted..HUMID

10 Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday September 14, 2010 at 10:26 am

In general, don’t do anything new on race day: no new feet, no new shoes, no new clothes.
Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday recently posted..sprints pt II

11 Tiffany (Stuffed with Fluff) September 14, 2010 at 10:41 am

Great advice. I don’t need it short term, but I certainly hope to be able to use it in the distant future =). Although, it can be applied to races of a shorter nature as well.

And yes…Gossip Girl. I am dying to discuss it with someone!

12 Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels September 14, 2010 at 10:48 am

I’ve never ran a marathon so I don’t really have any advice to offer. But I loved reading your tips even though I don’t race. By the way, Good Luck!!! 🙂

13 Marg September 14, 2010 at 11:01 am

These are great tips, even though I’m no where near running a marathon. One day though!

14 The Linz (Destination 26.2) September 14, 2010 at 11:06 am

This is great Meaghann! I was just thinking about what I should and shouldn’t be doing for my marathon training – as my first one is in a month too.

15 Ellie September 14, 2010 at 11:08 am

Love your advice. I’d say look over the race course map (not necessarily run in). Kind of get a feel for little things. It always keeps me from feeling lost
Ellie recently posted..Lovely Econ

16 Tina September 14, 2010 at 11:23 am

I would never have thought about so many of those things. Especially the pedicure and trying out your race day outfit. Its amazing what all goes into running.
Tina recently posted..30 days of self love – Perfection

17 Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat September 14, 2010 at 11:29 am

Great tips! I’ve never ran a full marathon before (I’ve only done a half), but I heard somewhere that you should paint your toenails (but don’t get a full on pedicure), just in case you get black toenails! Especially if you are still in an area that has flip-flop weather!
Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat recently posted..Green Veggie and Black Bean Enchiladas

18 Molly September 14, 2010 at 11:30 am

Haha my entire running career, from high school to college, everyone gives me that pedicure advice. And while I don’t get pedicures on a regular basis, I always get them, no matter if it’s in the middle of the season!
I personally have never had any problems (if I get blisters its due to new shoes, wet shoes, etc.) but I will say that for most people that advice is true.
Molly recently posted..Living Life Lately

19 Jen September 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Love this post, Meghann! I’m only six weeks out from MCM and these are great reminders.

The only thing I would add is to make sure that you know what foods work for you for your pre-race dinner and race day breakfast. This is especially important for first time marathoners and people who are traveling. Never eat or drink anything different on race day – GI issues mid-race are the worst!
Jen recently posted..Long Run Regret

20 kate September 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Ahh! I still havent seen GG. I cant find it online yet!
kate recently posted..First

21 Gwen September 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

GRRRRREAT Advice! I learned so much from my first marathon – combined with this awesome advice, I feel like I can really crush my next one!
Gwen recently posted..I Am Pumpkin Spice’s Biatch

22 Caitlin (EatFeats) September 14, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I love the advice about staying stress free. It is so important to trust yourself and know that you can do it, even on days that you don’t feel your best!
Caitlin (EatFeats) recently posted..The Best Bread Ever in the History of History

23 Kristin September 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I needed to hear this today. I’m doing a longer taper for my first marathon (the week after yours!) because I know I do better with fresh legs, but hearing about everyone else’s training programs are starting to make me nervous. I need to trust myself and know that I developed the best plan for myself.

My feet — OMG. Although I have to say, I am proud of my black toenail — it makes me feel hard core. =D

24 Jessica @ The Process of Healing September 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I can’t believe that you’re about to run the Chicago Marathon… you ROCK!
Jessica @ The Process of Healing recently posted..Let Them Go

25 Tracey September 14, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Great advice!

The Chicago Marathon is on my husband and I first wedding anniversary. We are going to spend part of that day cheering on all the Chicago Marathon runners!

Hope the rest of your training goes well!

26 Nichole September 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Counting the days until I can finally celebrate with a pedicure!! For now, close toed shoes, lol.

27 jillian September 14, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I’m running the Philadelphia Marathon in November — my first one! Do you know of any bloggers doing Philly? Thanks for the great advice 🙂

28 Maddie (the person) September 14, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Awesome advice!

I played softball growing up, and all through college…and I used to do this while I played, and then when I started running. Before a big game/race, I would just coat my feet in Vaseline. It helps with the friction, and reduces the possibility of blisters. When I was younger, my dad would always do it before games. It’s a neat, pre-race calming tool that I use. Good luck!!!!
Maddie (the person) recently posted..just needed a little inspiration –

29 Brie @ Brie Fit September 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm

LOVED this!
Also, I’ve never run a marathon, but I raced a half marathon in Chicago in August and my main advice is to TAKE YOUR GARMIN OFF AUTOLAP MODE! Because of the tall buildings and mass quantities of runners with Garmins, they don’t really work well for the first five or so miles of the course–train yourself to push “lap” at every physical mile marker along the course to get a better gauge of your time at the end. And don’t panic if your pace seems really weird–it’s probably not right. I didn’t do this for my last race, and many panicky moments ensued!
Brie @ Brie Fit recently posted..Philly Phun

30 Iowajen September 14, 2010 at 2:21 pm

I am doing the Chicago Marathon as well, and this is all really good stuff. What I learned from my first marathon which was on an unseasonably hot day in 2007 is to be prepared for any type of weather and bring clothes as such. If you are traveling out of town for your marathon, bring your race day outfit as planned, but also think about the fact that it might be raining so you would want a visor, it might be colder than crap, so bring old sweats to toss. Just bring several clothing options.

31 Nic September 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Your advice is spot on! The only thing I would add is don’t eat anything different or new to you the morning of the run or on the run. If you trained with shot blox or gu or whatever… use it that day. You never know how your belly is gonna react.

I can’t wait to read all about your upcoming marathon! What a great accomplishment!

32 Amy H September 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Great advice! All soo true! It’s around this time that I definitely work on my mental game plan. I just tell myself that at this point, I have done all I can do and have to be confident in my abilites and in my training. It is wayyy too easy to second guess your training now. Look back and think about all the miles you have put in and the challenges you have faced and supassed. I don’t know about you, but I get to feeling invincible right now…but that also means you need to make sure to tone it down a bit and save yourself for the race! Good luck in your last month of training. You are going to rock Chicago!

33 Stacey September 14, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Great advice! Fortunatley, I’ve never had to deal with chafing. But I have a few tank tops that I’m sure would probably chafe me if I wore them on a 20 mile run! Can’t wait to run my first marathon 😀 I know you’ll do great out there! We are all rooting for you! Woot woot <—see? 😉
Stacey recently posted..A Down Dog

34 Evan Thomas September 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Oh yeah, I never get a pedicure within the race month.

35 betsy September 14, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Great advice!

Fortunately, or not, I have done all my Chicago long runs alone!

I do need to figure out my outfit – did you decide on ordering a custom tee from
betsy recently posted..Are you ready for some Football

36 Stacey (The Habit of Healthy) September 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Although I will probably never run a marathon, I still love reading running tips! Oh, and your toast toppings look heavenly!

37 Ryan M. September 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm

How do you run outside in the early morning when it’s dark? I get up and roll right back over….

Gossip Girl—My sound was all screwy. C’mon CW, the music was louder than the speaking. At times I couldn’t hear Kristen Bell’s voice giving the lowdown. What I could hear…it is going to be a great season! Woohoo! Love Fall TV!

38 Angie (Losing It and Loving It) September 14, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Oh great tips! I had all good intentions to run in the Reggae Marathon 1/2 this Dec. but running since Jan. has been a struggle so hubby and I decided this month that we will walk it instead. I’m going to assume that all these tips would be for walking the 1/2 as well. I want to be well prepared since it is in Jamaica. I had no clue about the pedi so I’ll just plan to get one at the resort spa the day after. As for clothing, I’m plus size and have had a hard time figuring out what I’ll be wearing. Need some good sports bras but boy they are hard to find for my size.

The only other thing I would love to find is someone who I could pay to put together a 1/2 marathon walking play list from my current itunes music for me. That would be awesome!
Angie (Losing It and Loving It) recently posted..Leave Only Footprints- Take Only Memories

39 Runeatrepeat September 14, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I don’t follow #1. I get pedicures when ever, but I always have – since right after high school. I don’t know if it’s a Mexican thing or what, but my friends go every two weeks like clockwork! I’m not that bad, but I will still go…

40 Lizzy September 14, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I’m in the same boat. my marathon is just about a month away, and as ready as i think i might be i’m getting more and more nervous. but i know i can do it! thank u so much for ur tips!

41 maria @ Chasing the Now September 14, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I never thought about your first rule before, but it is a really great idea. I’ll keep that in mind for future races!
maria @ Chasing the Now recently posted..A week of OIAJ

42 Bobbi September 15, 2010 at 12:39 am

So excited to hang with you in less then a MONTH!! AWWW!

43 Orla September 15, 2010 at 4:19 am

I alwasy do my own pedi. They are just too expensive here!
Can I ask about your tattoo? Did it really hurt in that spot on your foot? I have 2 already which were fine but I plan on a third soon and my foot is on my short list of places to get it!
Orla recently posted..Wibbly Wobbly Jelly…

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