7 tips to rock your marathon

Last year when U&R alumni Paula G and Paula P a.k.a. “The Paulas” ran the Roma-Ostia half marathon, the seed was planted in front of the Trevi fountain for them to run a marathon. We looked at an international race calendar and decided right then and there on Marataò Barcelona.

I hadn’t thought about running with them but I knew that if I was in Spain it would be really hard to watch that stream of runners without wanting to be a part of it all. So I signed up for marathon #34.

You’d think that after so many years of running and numerous marathons that the excitement would have worn off, but I still get butterflies in my stomach while I pin on that bib number.

This was the first marathon for The Paulas and I’d trained them both. While there was a lot of advice I could give them for race day, there were a few things that they’d just have to learn for themselves on the day. It’s a very individual process since, well, we’re all different! But here are my 7 best tips for rocking that 42K…

Julia, Paula P and Paula G at the Expo
Julia, Paula P and Paula G at the Expo

1. It’s better with friends

We rented a gorgeous apartment on Placa Catalunya and it was so much fun being together, like a grown-up slumber party. I was excited to be running with The Paulas but I was even more excited that we’d have U&R cheerleaders along the route. We actually saw them twice, plus I saw an athlete my husband trains at the 35th km and that gave me a huge thrill. I’ve only run one marathon where I went all by myself. Believe me, you don’t want to do that!

2. Enjoy and chill the day before the race

I am a huge fan of race expos. I savor the picking-up-my-bib-and-chip process and looking at the running and triathlon specific booths. Barcelona had huge expo with personalized pacing bracelets and loads of new products. Desigual has come out with a women’s running line! But after we left the expo and strolled back to the apartment, I was done for the day. I know so many runners that go to big city marathons, do a tour of the city by walking from museum to monuments and are then dead tired the morning of the race. Chill. Remember, you’re here to run a marathon!

Desigual running gear
Desigual running gear

3. Leave yourself enough time before the start

Marataò Barcelona had an 8:30 start so we counted backwards:

  • 8:30 –  start
  • 7:00 – arrive at start so we had sufficient time to leave our bags, go to restroom twice, chill some more and line up.
  • 6:30 – leave apartment to slowly walk to start
  • 5:45 – Wake up and eat breakfast (clothes prepared the night before)

We had plenty of time to do everything and even though I’m pretty sure The Paulas felt like we got there too early, in hindsight I think they enjoyed the relaxing moment together before the start.

At the starting line
At the starting line

4. Adjust your expectations according to the weather and course elevation

I knew that the marathon would to be more difficult than usual since Sunday’s forecasted temperature was 23°C/74°F. For marathon running that is hot! Paula nP lives in Dubai and though she’s used to high temperatures, the effect heat has on your body after 20 miles can be pretty devastating. I reminded them that their final times might not be as good as they hoped but that it wouldn’t be anything they could control, just how the dice rolled that day. The race course was relatively flat, but had a lot of steady slight uphill grades, including a punishing final one mile uphill. Remember to adjust your expectations… and enjoy!

Still smiling at 40km
Still smiling at 40km. Thanks Cheerleader Clare for the pic!

5. You may not need to warm up

If you’re planning on finishing the marathon in 3:30 or under you can do a ten or fifteen minute slow run warm up with a few stretches. Anybody that runs slower than that can get away with some gently stretches and a little walking around. Save your energy for the run!

6. Start out slow… always!

Paula G and I used the restroom one last time (birthing two children apiece will do that!) before the start so by the time we lined up we were pretty much at the back of the pack. We started off slowly and kept reigning ourselves to ensure we didn’t waste precious energy and fuel. Yet when we looked at our race statistics afterwards we passed about a thousand runners during the race. I can guarantee you they had all started out too fast. Never, ever start out a marathon too fast. If you want to speed up, feel free to do so in the last 10km!

Smiley Paula G
Smiley Paula G

7. Enjoy the experience, no matter what the outcome

As I made my way towards the finish line and realised I’d miss going under five hours by one minute, I reminded myself that this was not my “A” race and that it was just a practice for Ironman Zurich in July. So I stopped, took out my camera and stood for a minute taking a few photos before crossing the finish line. I had just run my thirty-fourth marathon and wasn’t that amazing enough in itself?

Are you ready to rock the marathon? Check out our 1-on-1 coaching.

Or for half the distance but just as fun, join our 21K Course!

Smiley Julia
Smiley Julia
  1. Frances
    " I had just run my thirty-fourth marathon and wasn’t that amazing enough in itself?" You are a goddess. Made of steel. (Mixing my metaphors?!) Looks like such a good weekend - well done two Paulas and one Julia! And assorted cheerleaders!
  2. Tracy
    Congratulations on #34!! I love the idea of Up and Runners meeting up, socializing and running together. To have had your sage packet of pre-race tips would have been invaluable. But, wait, now we all have those wisdom packed tips!!
  3. Marci
    Well done rocking Barcelona, ladies! Paris '15, you've been warned :)
  4. PaulaG
    What a wonderful race and weekend we had. Unlike most runners I had my coach right there to make sure I kept a good pace for the first half! Thank you so much for making my day very special. Big well done to you for rocking your 34th Marathon and doing it in style.
  5. Helen
    34 - how amazing!! Congrats to you Julia and pair of Paulas. Great thing about U&R is that if you can't run with friends there's a virtual cheer squad available. Also serving notice for cheer squad duties at Paris 2015.
  6. SaraL
    8- Get Julia Jones as a trainer and do what she says. 34 marathons... you are one insane amazing woman. :*
  7. MarciG
    Or at least insane…LOL…just kidding, Julia :)
  8. Anne
    Congratulations not just on running your 34th marathon, but doing it with such joy. Here's to # 35!
  9. Bella
    34 marathons and still excited, I love that!!!
  10. Minna
    Congratulations, Julia! You are a STAR!
  11. Angie
    Wow what an amazing city to do a marathon in! You girls rock! Some excellent tips too, not that I'm planning a marathon as 10km is far enough for me :)
  12. Tessa
    Well done Julia! The international u&r cheer team is already doing some warm up stretches for your A event ;) It's going to be awesome! I must admit I'm a teeny tiny bit jealous the Paula's. Running with coach Julia, how cool! Can't wait for the moment when I (finally) run my first half. These race reports are always a great read. The never fail to remind me of that wonderfull feeling you get when you cross that start ánd finish line :)
  13. Clare
    Congratulations Julia on number 34! In my capacity as a team member of the U&R cheer squad, I'm happy to bring THE pom poms to all U&R races. Particularly the races in lovely locations :)
  14. Honor
    Julia, congratulations on your 34th marathon and congratulations too to the Paulas for their first. Barcelona is beautiful and the warmth and sunshine was such a treat for those of us cheering. The company of other U&R women was also a treat and I returned to Edinburgh retaining some of the joy I felt over the weekend. Thanks :)
  15. Angela
    You women take my breath away!!! Totally amazingly wonderfully fabulous!
  16. KatherineE
    When I first saw the title of this post, it struck me the same way as something titled "7 tips to rock your Oscar nomination." But, as usual, you have written wise words for everyone! Congratulations on marathon number #34. You are amazing and inspiring.
  17. Julia Jones
    Thanks everybody, after a short rest I feel ready to plan the next -- ha ha!
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