Marathon Training & Racing from
Joe Bowman
All 50 States & DC under 3:00
Marathon Training & Racing from
Joe Bowman
All 50 States & DC under 3:00
All the quality training
you've done doesn't
matter if you don't
execute on race day, but
you can't properly
execute if you've picked
the wrong race.
The Right Race

Terrain - Downhill courses
are fast, but they can crush
the quads.  Flat courses
seem like a good pick too,
but sometimes your muscles
need variety.  Hilly courses
are often avoided, but if
you're a good hill runner
and the uphills aren't too
steep and the downhills are
runnable, then maybe such
a course is not a bad
choice.  As for surfaces, on
one extreme, concrete will
pound you to pieces, but on
the other hand, soft
surfaces may absorb too
much power and create poor
traction.  An asphalt
marathon is normally the
best choice.

Crowds - I hate 'em at Six
Flags, at the movies, on the
freeway, and yes on race
day too.  If the hype and
people of big race
marathoning pumps you up,
by all means run those type
races.  Personally I prefer
the smaller ones and with
that, accept the fact that the
spectator base will be less
and that I'll have fewer
possible running partners
that day.  I'm OK with both
because it means I'll be able
to focus more directly on my
competition.  Remember, as
a sub three hour
marathoner you are in
award contention these days
on any race that's not
paying money.

Time of Year - Living in
Atlanta means we have all
four seasons and though
the summers can be hot,
they're manageable.  We
also don't lose much outside
training due to wintry
weather.  This means spring
marathons fit nicely in our
schedules, but they may not
for you.  Most organizers
strive to pick the best time of
year in their particular
region, but there are
exceptions.  Evaluate your
training conditions then pick
a race that allows for three
or four months of optimal
train time leading up to the
Are You
Joe Now

Warming Up
Is 26.2 miles not far enough?  
Really it is.  In most race
settings, you're only warming
up to stand around.  There is
no rolling NASCAR start.  Run
a strider or two to make sure
your shoes are tied (double
knotted please) then relax
and wait for the gun.

Pre-Race Food and Drink
Food and fluid are both
very important in the last
day or so leading up to the
race, but sometimes we
take it to the extreme.  You
don't want to eat
all-you-can-eat at the
pasta party and you don't
need to try to store fluid
like a camel.  On marathon
eve,  you're not going to
sleep well anyway so don't
compound things by
overeating and drinking.  
And no, you don't have to
eat pasta.  If you're in a
small town, there may only
be one Italian restaurant
and the runners will start
lining up as soon as the
doors open.  A 24 ounce
steak is not a good
alternative, but eating
something you enjoy that
doesn't usually effect your
stomach is fine.  Carbs are
king and they come in
many forms.
I hate breaking the rules (actually I
don't), but you're taking advice from
someone who has run many back to
back weekend marathons.  Fresh
legs are important but so is
confidence.  I sometimes feel like I'm
losing my edge when I'm not doing
hard workouts.  Definitely go easy
four days out, but I can often be
found at the track on the Tuesday
before a Sunday marathon.
ASICS DS Racers have been
a fabulous marathon shoe for
me for several years.  I can
buy them at the expo and
wear them straight out of the
box.  Find a shoe that is light
but that has some
support...then do some fast
training in them.  I do not
recommend stripped down 5K
shoes; your legs will take a
beating and you'll be flirting
with injury.  Talk to your local
running store about some
good training and racing

Overdressing...WHY DOES THIS
back to a cold training day and
remember how long it took you to
warm up at training pace.  You are
racing today so you are going to heat
up even faster.  Layering is fine.  I
don't do it because I'm so attached to
my tee shirt collection I guess...but if
you do it, undress before you get hot.
 Your core and sweat rate needs to
be kept in check early in the race.

Make some, would ya!?!  I'm not real social, but
even I get to know someone while running
shoulder to shoulder for 20 miles.  It sure can
make the miles go by faster and often gets you
through a tough spot (or gets them through a
tough spot).  Remember, you're friends now;
don't leave them for dead at the first sign of
weakness.  Encourage them to get on your
heels and relax.  They may still drop off three or
four miles later, but you got them that much
further down the road.  At the end of the day,
you have to stick with your race plan, even if it
means leaving your best pal behind.  Just
remember, they have to do the same and
neither you nor they should ever think twice
about it.

Race Day Food and Drink
Again, don't fill up your belly.  A bagel or a trail
bar or a muffin (or a combination thereof) with
some juice or sports drink is what I do about two
hours before the race.  It's important to get
something down early enough so you can avoid
fighting the porta potty lines.  Over-hydration
these days seems to be a bigger problem than
not drinking enough.  If you drink to the point
that you have to hit the loo every 30 minutes,
guess what's going to happen 10 miles into the
race.  Drink something at every aid
stations...sports drink or water...just skip the
sports drink if you're taking a gel.  Gels and
Bloks (my new favorite)...I carry 4 gels or two
packs of Bloks (the same math) and have some
shorts with two pockets in the back that don't
bounce around.  Gels kinda need to be taken
around water stations, but I can 'snack' on a
Blok at any point in the race.

Negative Splits vs Banking Time
Maybe you've never heard either term.  
Negative splits means running the second half
of the race faster than the first.  Banking time
means getting as many fast miles in as you can
before the wheels come flying off.  Which do
you think has a better success rate when it
comes to turning in a quality marathon time?  
Sure, negative splits do (your hint was 'before
the wheels come flying off'), but I'll bet you 80%
of all marathoners are time bankers.  Hey I used
to be; the logic being 'really how much time can I
lose over the last few miles.'  Well I'm here to tell
you that 30 seconds off your pace quickly turns
into 1 minute, which turns into 2 minutes...and
then there's walking.  Oh, and it's
miserable...and the whole race you're think
about when it's going to happen...because
you've intentionally planned for it to happen!!  
How smart is that.  Now, just because you go
into a race planning on negative splits doesn't
mean it will happen, but if you go out at a
comfortable pace for the first 13 miles, you have
a great chance of pulling one off...and I
PROMISE if you are successful, you won't be
able to wipe the grin off your face at the finish
because it will be the most fun 26.2 miles you've
ever run.

OK, what might seem like fun to me and you is
really not that fun to someone whose mother got
them out of bed way too early on a cold Sunday
morning to get sticky yellow drink spilled all over
them by strangers.  See where I'm going with
this? You're not going to get perfection; more
likely it's the perfect storm.  GET OVER IT and
instead thank every single person there...and
SMILE!  Trust me, your attitude is a huge part of
your race success.  It doesn't matter if the stuff
is blue or green; it all works the same.  I'm not
telling you not to open your mouth other than to
say thank you; you should give them a little
heads up on what you're looking for so that it's
not a last minute fire drill, but if in the end you
don't get what you want, still say, 'that's
OK'...these people aren't out to get you.  Set a
positive example; there are usually kids around.  
In fact, I love the kids and do everything I can to
take my drink from one of them for two
reasons...1) they're usually counting how many
they've given out (competitive little boogers
aren't they) and 2) though I'll never see these
kids again, my ultimate reward is to have them
come away from the event with a cool
experience that makes them say...
One day I'm gonna run a marathon!

Starting Line Essentials
You may not actually tote these items to the start, but these are things that might make the
difference between a good/comfortable race and a crummy one.  Boys, put something on your
nipples.  You don't and you will experience a sting in the shower that you will never ever
forget...and you'll stain a nice singlet (and people will point at you).  All, don't forget the deo
(there's enough other smells out there, ie porta johns, shoes you've been running in for two
months, your stomach, etc.  Also, don't forget the sunscreen (and maybe it'll smell like coco butter
to offset the guy who forgot the deo).   Extra pins (for you or someone else) are handy.  How 'bout
a few squares of TP that you brought with you in-case the john isn't stocked properly or if you
have to find a bush.  I usually put mine is a small zip lock and carry it with me throughout the
race...just in case.