What’s The Best Marathon Advice You’ve Ever Received?

I’ve received quite a lot of them, some really helpful and the others–the usual training tips that we generally try to incorporate into our races. There is much to be learned from these wealth of advice which are usually taken for granted but they offer valuable lessons that can be used and applied in every level of running.


Best advice? Here’s my top three given to me from the 80s:

  • Sleep well on the second to the last night before the marathon even if you can’t sleep the night before  (i can’t on the eve of every race). The two nights before your race is the most restful. Works well for me.
  • If you’re in a bind on what shoes to wear on marathon race day, use the shoes you’re presently training in! You’ve already used and tested them and they’ll give you the added stability and cushioning you may need to run the long distance race than when you wear your racing shoes. Don’t sacrifice stability and comfort for lightness. If your racing shoe has worked for you well enough and don’t give you any blisters on your long runs, then go for these shoes. If not, your usual training shoes will suffice.
  • Remember to have FUN!

Safety Tips For Runners

Ron running the Globe Run For Home Race

Ron (#1881) running the Globe Run For Home Race

Here’s an article written and sent to me by Ron Delos Reyes, Producer and Host of the weekly motoring show, AUTOREVIEW and a long time runner. Ron has been in the broadcast media industry for more than 2 decades now and has also organized special events, marathon races, included. He is presently the communications and marketing head of the QCIM.  Ron wrote this article for Cruising Magazine, a sister publication of Manila Bulletin, last July.


By Ron de los Reyes


I was invited recently by the organizers of the Botak Paatibayan Ultra Marathon race to talk about safety for runners during the pre-race fellowship and carbo-loading party at UP.  Carbo-loading is short for carbohydrate loading which is customary for runners a few days before a big long distance race. Runners normally burn a lot of carbohydrates during a race and thus, need to consume food like pasta, rice and even pizza and bread for added stamina. The race featured 100-km and 50-km events and was held in Quezon City and Marikina in late June.

I started by saying that with the increasing number of runners out on roads doing practice runs, training runs or LSDs (long slow distances), the probability of vehicular accidents also increases. We have to be alert at all times and ensure our safety as runners or pedestrians, motorists, riders and cyclists .

Studies show that the Philippines is ranked seventh among 10 ASEAN member- states in road safety and was also found to be the worst in accident data reporting in the 4th Global Road Safety Partnership ASEAN Seminar in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

The Automobile Association Philippines or AAP also noted that informal surveys show that many drivers are unfamiliar with road and traffic signs and are ignorant of traffic regulations.

While we don’t have figures on accidents involving runners (perhaps because runners are the most defensive and most alert users of the road), figures involving other road users are very alarming.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported a total of 11,699 fatal and non-fatal road accidents in 2007. In Jan- Sept of 2008, the figure increased to 43,510 road accidents (almost four-fold) including fatal and non-fatal incidents and damages to property. A majority of these accidents were caused by human error.

On a world view, the World Health Organization estimates that road accidents will become the third leading cause of premature death for all ages by 2020, accounting for a staggering 1.3 million deaths every year.

This is not meant to scare you but to encourage you to be on your toes always, and if you drive a car yourself, always remember to drive defensively and with courtesy and consideration for other users of the road.

Now, as runners, we are also frequent road users and are always exposed to hazards and dangers on the road, especially when we train by ourselves. In organized races, at least, we have police and marshals that secure the routes taken by the runners.

To enhance our safety on the road, here are some tips or reminders:

– Run on the left side of the road facing traffic. You will be in a better position to anticipate and react to vehicles.

Run on the left side of the road

Run on the left side of the road

– Run on roads with wide shoulders. Use the sidewalks when vehicular traffic increases.

– Be cautious on blind curves where you will not be visible to approaching cars.

– Be aware of factors that affect motorist visibility – glaring sun, rain, fog. Run single file when running in a group – particularly in high traffic areas.

– Anticipate potentially dangerous situations and be ready to deal with them. Always make the first move to protect yourself. Do not expect cars to change their paths to avoid you.

– Obey traffic rules and signals. Runners, as pedestrians, are bound by traffic laws.

– Yield the right-of-way to vehicles at intersections. Drivers may not heed traffic signals or signs.

– Be alert at all times. Be wary of “runner’s high,” fatigue, or any other lapse of concentration.

– Avoid running alone in isolated areas – vary your route.

Get someone to run with you on dangerous routes

Get someone to run with you on dangerous routes

– Use your ears as well as your eyes – don’t wear headphones and refrain from using your cell phones – Wear reflective clothing at dawn, dusk, or nighttime and bright, visible clothing at all other times.

– While it’s nice to run under the rains, take extra caution, too, as your visibility and that of the motorists will also be reduced. Consider another form of exercise when adverse weather conditions make running dangerous.

Now, here are some additional tips when you train or join the races:

– Running under the sun, heat and humidity requires that you take special precautions. Minimizing fluid loss and heat is essential.

– Drink water whenever possible. Water is the vital ingredient in the prevention of heat injury. Thirst is not a reliable indicator to warn a runner of fluid loss. Your body loses a considerable amount of fluid before you feel thirsty.  – Just like our advise to motorists which is don’t drink (alcohol and drive), don’t drink and run.

Running is an enjoyable form of exercise and is good for both body and spirit. It becomes even more fun and fulfilling when our runs are accident-free.


My Pre-Race Rituals

Have you ever experienced when driving to a race venue, you suddenly ask yourself if you brought with you the Bib no. for the race or if you placed your watch on your bag since you noticed that you aren’t wearing it?

We have been faced with such dilemmas and nothing is more disconcerting when you realize you forgot bringing some of your race essentials when scurrying up to the race venue. A watch, a race belt or a GU might be dispensable when running short races. But how about forgetting your Bib no., running shoes or running shorts to discover this only upon arrival at the venue? So you also forgot to gargle and brush your teeth because you were running late? Yuk!

I think one should have a standard pre-race preparation for a worry-free travel to get you into racing mode. Having peace of mind sets aside doubts and jitters, knowing that you have all your ammunition at hand and lets you focus more on the race itself.

Here are my pre-race rituals to prepare me for the rigors of racing:

The Night Before the Race: These are the basics i do and for most runners, as well.

Set aside a small backpack. Inside: A clean T-shirt, extra shorts, singlet with bib already clipped on it. A towelette, slippers placed inside a plastic sheet, Gatorade, Cobra energy drink, bottled mineral water, band aides and some chocolates (choco-muchos, preferably).

Morning of the Race:

Wake up early. I live in Quezon City so i wake up at about 3:30am (or earlier) whether the race is in Manila, The Fort or in Q.C.

The usual rituals in the bathroom: empty your bowels, brush your teeth and if your bowels didn’t give you a hard time going thru your large intestines, it leaves you time to take a 10 minute shower to freshen the whole body.

Listening to Jazz music: On race mornings, i try to keep my mind off the race by playing some of my favorite jazz music. It reduces the feeling of anxiety, helps me feel more relaxed and gives me something to hum on during the race itself. These are among the jazz albums which are often cued on my cd player:

Pat Metheny - "Question And Answer"

Pat Metheny - "Question And Answer"

Keith Jarret"My Song"

Keith Jarret"My Song"

Kenny Wheeler - "Music For Large & Small Ensembles"

Kenny Wheeler - "Music For Large & Small Ensembles" (My all-time favorite jazz album)

Miles Davis - "Kind of Blue"

Miles Davis - "Kind of Blue"

Breakfast: I don’t take anything in the morning if races are from 5k to 21k. A glass of water is enough for me. Maybe a gel or a choco-mucho stocked in my waist belt just in case i get hungry during a 21k race.

If running a full marathon, i wake up earlier (about 2:00am) and eat pasta (spaghetti), two slices of whole wheat bread with jam or peanut butter, two bananas, water, then go back to sleep (if i could muster my brain back to sleep). During the marathon itself, i rely on the provisions given by my support group, running club or friends waiting from km 30 to km 35. Mostly, it’s bananas, choco bars and energy drinks that are provided. If somebody would hand me a can of beer, i would gladly accept it.

Wear all essentials.

Running Shoes: Before putting on my running shoes, i first remove the insoles and tap-out any debris that might have stuck inside the shoe (like small stones). On one occasion, i found an open safety pin tucked in the insoles and in one other, i found a one-peso coin between the sidings and the insole.  i do the same with the insoles and if all has been done, i’m ready to wear them.

Tapping out small sharp stones

Tapping out small sharp objects

We use Band Aid over here

We use Band Aid over here

Nip Guards (aka Band Aid) : My nipples are sensitive to chafing so i put on Band Aid on both nipples. Many old-time runners who share the same experience of abrasion say that once you get accustomed to wearing it, you are going to wear them every time you run.  I do so now. I position the band aid in such a way that i do not paste them flatly but put a space and create a gap directly from the nipple to protect the tip from chafing and prevent resistance from my singlet.

At the race venue:

— Short warm-up: Warm ups are slow jogs for 10 mins or less to loosen up the muscles. If i feel like it, i go to the rest room, take a leak at least once before the race.

— Stretching: After the warm up, i do some 5 minutes of gentle stretching to loosen up some more. I do simple stretching for the calf, thigh and hamstring muscles. Take sips of water.

— Check-In : I check-in 10 to 12 minutes before the designated start time and look for friends who i can chat with before the gun goes off.

99+1 Beginner Running Tips

99+1 Beginner Running Tips

Here’s a top 100 beginner running tips collated by a team from the CRN website. Most are applicable in our local running scene and it also can be valuable to all veteran and hard-core runners. If you have other tips you would want to share, please don’t hesitate to share them here.

Apparel Tips

  1. Wear spandex shorts under your regular running shorts so you don’t chafe “down there.”

  2. Cotton socks will only lead to blisters; invest in socks designed for running.

  3. Ladies, do not skimp on a bra. Even if it costs more than your shoes it’s still a bargain.

  4. Buy running clothes you look good in and that will motivate you to run.

  5. Buy new running clothes at the end of the season when stores dump the old season’s line. Think clearance!


  1. Join your local running club—check with your local running store fitness center and/or recreation department to find one.

  2. Volunteer at a local race—meet runners support runners and connect with your Community.


  1. Remember to say “Thank You!” to race volunteers (e.g. when you get that cup of water at the aid station) and family and friends who support you.

  2. Conscientiously share the trail with walkers, bikers and other runners.

  3. Always try to balance running with the people you love by making a schedule that involves and is considerate of everyone.

  4. Don’t carry loose change. It will annoy those who are running with you.

  5. Don’t neglect and irritate your family and friends by spending all your time running and talking about running.

Motivation Tips

  1. Sign up for a race as soon as you feel up to it.

  2. Find a committed running partner. It is much harder to skip a run when you have someone else depending on you.

  3. Remember that you will have plateaus in your progress and tough days along the way.

  4. It gets easier.

  5. Accept and appreciate the fact that not every single run can be a good one.

  6. Be prepared to remove the words “can’t” and “never” from your vocabulary.

  7. Do not compare yourself to others. Run within yourself and for yourself first.

  8. Don’t expect every run to be better than the last one; some of them will hurt.

  9. Don’t think too much about it or you won’t do it.

  10. Even a bad run is better then no run at all.

  11. If you normally run with music try skipping it and listening to your feet to hear your pace and your gait.

  12. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t experience weight loss immediately.

  13. Start a running blog and read other running blogs regularly.

  14. Running is not an excuse to triple your intake of doughnuts because runners gain weight too.

Nutrition Tips

  1. Buy the powdered sports drink mix instead of premixed. It’s cheaper and more similar to race drink mixes.

  2. Each pound you lose makes running a little easier.

  3. Hydrate. Make it a habit to drink water throughout the day.

  4. If you are running very long distance drink enough electrolytes (e.g. Gatorade).

  5. On long runs eat something every hour—whether you feel like it or not.

  6. During longer runs if you don’t like to carry water take some cash in your pocket pouch or a shoe wallet. Run a route where there’s a corner store that you can use as a pit stop to pick up your water and maybe use the bathroom.

  7. Avoid eating spicy foods before running and the night before your long runs.

  8. To aid recovery the most crucial time to eat and drink is in the hour immediately after you run.

Prevention Tips

  1. Use Vaseline or Body Glide wherever things rub. They will help prevent blisters and chafing (guys don’t forget the nipples).

  2. Do not increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week.

  3. Guys: Band-Aids before the long runs. Your nipples will thank you in the shower afterwards.

  4. Log your mileage for your legs and your Shoes. Too much on either will cause you injury.

  5. If you are prone to shin splints and lower leg pain try running soft trails for your Training runs and save the asphalt for race day.

  6. Do not run two hard days back-to-back.

  7. Ice aches and pains immediately.

  8. Pay attention to your form. Try to run lightly to minimize impact that could lead to injury.

  9. Cut your Training by at least 30 percent to 50 percent every 4th or 5th week for recovery.

  10. When trail running don’t forget the bug spray.

  11. Neosporin (or another antibiotic cream) is good for chafed areas (if you didn’t use your Body Glide!).

  12. Make sure you cut your toenails short enough so they don’t jam into your Shoes!

  13. Put some Body Glide between your toes on long runs.

  14. Be careful about running on paths that force you to run consistently on a slant. It’s hard on the hips knees and IT bands.

  15. Don’t stretch before a run. Warm up by walking briskly or jogging slowly for several minutes.

  16. Do not ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.

  17. Do not use the hot tub after a race. It will increase inflammation and hinder healing.

  18. Frozen peas make a great ice pack for aches and pains. A thin t-towel wrapped around them makes the cold more comfortable.

Racing Tips

  1. Race day is not the day to try new shoes, eat new foods, or wear brand new clothing.

  2. Do not try a marathon as your first race.

  3. For races longer than 5k start out slower than you think you should.

  4. If you conserve your energy during the first half of a race, you can finish strong.

  5. When you pick up drinking cups at aid stations, squeeze gently so it folds slightly and is easier to drink from it while you are moving.

  6. A plastic garbage on race day is a very fashionable cheap disposable raincoat.

Safety Tips

  1. Be aware of cyclists approaching you from behind and try to keep to the right. Try to pay special attention when running with music.

  2. Run facing traffic.

  3. Never assume a car sees you.

  4. Give horses wide berths on trails and walk as you pass them unless you enjoy a hoof to the melon.

  5. Always carry I.D. because you just never know.

Shoe Tips

  1. Try shoes on in the afternoon when your feet are bigger.

  2. Doubleknot your shoe laces so they will not come undone when you run.

  3. Buy yourself some actual running shoes from an actual running store because running in junk “sneakers” will destroy your feet and your legs.

  4. Get assessed for the right kind of running shoes.

Training Tips

  1. In the immortal words of Walt Stack famed senior-citizen distance runner “Start slow … and taper.”

  2. At first keep your runs short and slow to avoid injury and soreness so you do not quit.

  3. If you are breathing too hard slow down or walk a bit until you feel comfortable again.

  4. Pick your route close to home (out your front door)—the more convenient it is the better chance you will have sticking with it.

  5. Find a beginner training plan for your first race.

  6. Set realistic short term and long term goals.

  7. Keep a training diary.

  8. Soreness one to two days after a run is normal (delayed onset muscle soreness).

  9. No amount of money spent on gadgets, training programs or funny food can substitute for minutes, hours, days and weeks on the road.

  10. There’s no shame in walking.

  11. Subscribe to a running magazine or pick up a book or two on running.

  12. Four laps around the local the high school track equals one mile.

  13. Lift weights.

  14. It’s okay to take walk breaks (run 1 minute walk 1 minute then progress to run 10 minutes walk 1 minute etc.).

  15. Vary your training routes. This will prevent boredom and prevent your body from getting acclimated.

  16. Speed work doesn’t have to be scientific. Try racing to one light post and then jogging to the next.

  17. Push through rough spots by focusing on the sounds of your breath and feet touching the ground.

  18. Do speed work after you develop an endurance base.

  19. Practice running harder in the last half of your runs.

  20. Do abdominal breathing to get rid of side cramps or “stitches.”

  21. If you can’t find the time to run, take your running gear to work.

  22. Run on trails if at all possible. It will be easier on your body and you’ll love it.

  23. Build rest into your schedule. Rest is just as important of an element as exercise in your fitness plan.

  24. Forgive yourself. Over-ambitious goals usually lead to frustration and giving up on your fitness plan. If you miss a goal or milestone let it go and focus on the next opportunity to get it.

  25. Mix-up your training plan. Make sure your training plan is not too heavily focused on one thing. No matter what level of runner you are your training plan should include four essential elements: endurance, speed, rest, cross-training.

Weather Tips

  1. Dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer than the temperature on the thermometer.

  2. Wear sunscreen and a hat when the sun is beating down—even in winter.

  3. Run early in the morning or later in evening to avoid mid-day heat.

  4. Pick up a pair of Yaktrax when running in icey conditions.

  5. In the winter dress in layers (coolmax or other technical clothing) and wear a headband over your running hat to cover your ears.

  6. For colder climates invest in socks rated to 40 below (usually found in sport/ski shops).

  7. To keep cool in hot weather soak a bandana in cold water wring it out a bit and tie it loosely around your neck.

  8. For hot weather fill your water bottle about half way lay it at an angle in the freezer and just before you head out for your run top it off with more water.