The 17 Best Last Moment Running Tricks To Help You Run A Marathon Easier And Faster

Guest Blog: Monica May

Will running ever get easier?

Do you need help figuring out how to run a marathon faster?

Well, after struggling to cross the finish line on my latest marathons, I decided to finally take an action. I collected the BEST OF THE BEST running tricks, in order to make my run easier. Since running a marathon is already hard enough, it would be nice to include the right techniques to avoid making it even harder than it is.

And these amazing tips I have for you today are your absolute golden ticket to the finish line.

By using them, I improved my time on my last marathon and ran through the whole race without stopping once. These strategies are a win-win, since they’re used from famous runners worldwide. And the best thing is that you can use them right now, even if you’re a first timer. So, don’t wait a second and head on to the tips, because I’m bringing down the curtains right now!

#1 Take a Cold Shower Right Before Your Race

Brrrr… right? Well as much as this bristles my skin the moment I think about it, the fact is it helps a lot. Wondering how? Well, a cold shower will increase the blood flow and give you immediate circulation, which makes it the perfect pre-run warm up.

Not to mention the benefits of waking you up as healthy as possible.

Just another tip: don’t forget to dry your hair before heading to the race.

#2 Run Empty Handed

running empty handed

Nothing messes up your balance while running like a good old water bottle.

Doesn’t matter how small it is, it adds stress and extra pressure to the side it’s weighing on, so make sure to leave it as the race starts. You’ll feel much better if you’re running empty handed and don’t worry about satisfying your thirstiness – you’ll do that with the refreshments along the track.

#3 Avoid Screens The Night Before The Marathon

Texting your friends late at night may be fun, but exposing your sleep to suffer the night before your race, it’s not fun at all.

It’s so hard to run on no sleep, and by staring at the screen on your tablet or smartphone you’re increasing the chances of struggling to fall asleep.

Your body is ready to bed down and instead of that you’re exposing it to mixed signals with a light object alarming it up. So leave your phone away from you when the lights go out, and if you want a late night entertainment, read a book.

#4 Have a Shot Of Energy Gel

This will boost up your energy levels in a few minutes. Not only that energy gels are recommended by many famous marathon training coaches worldwide, they’re used by many runners too.

Still wondering why?

Well they fill your body with electrolytes, and energize it with fresh portion of glycogen. Just make sure you energize with a shot at least 30 minutes before the race starts, in order to let digestion take its place.

#5 Don’t Run With Clenched Fists

You might not know this, but what sucks up your energy while running, can actually be your fists.

If you clench your fists while running, not only that you’ll lose some extra energy, but you’ll leave tension on your shoulders, which will fast enough tense your whole body. To avoid this, think about your fists through the whole run, by imagining that you’re holding an egg in each palm.

#6 Breathe Through Your Mouth

Breathing right is one of the most important parts of this game. Often find yourself breathless on your run? Well this happens a lot, and it mostly happens because people don’t breathe right.

What you can do is focus on doing the inhaling and exhaling through your mouth.

This is because when breathing through your mouth, you let oxygen get through your whole body faster. Test this on your next run and you’ll see the difference.

#7 Wake Up Hours Before The Marathon

Cutting down an hour off your sleep won’t change a lot, but not having time to do your pre-race morning rituals will. Waking up at least 3 hours before the race can help you a lot:

you’ll have time to shower

– have breakfast

– warm up

– wake up completely

– get to the race on time

Since these things are really important, make sure to include them in your morning rituals by waking up a bit earlier.

#8 Have Your Last Meals Like A Superhero

eat like a superhero

Don’t get confused by your last minute meals before the race, because you should only remember my dearest rule:

Eat like a superhero to feel like a superhero!

And you can do that by including these foods in your diet:

– healthy carbs

– proteins

– greens

– a lot of IRON

#9 Hit The Ground Landing On Your Forefoot

In order to decrease the impact on your whole body, prevent ankles and knees pain, and most important of all go through the whole run faster and injure-free, you have to land on the right part of the foot.

This means that when you hit the ground you should land with the front part of the foot, not with your toes, but with your forefoot.

The forefoot strike allows your whole body to take its right leaning forward posture and go through the run easier.

#10 Don’t Look Down

I bet you find yourself staring at your own sneakers while running. Well you might want to change that, because looking down provides a series of unfortunate events, starting from:

– puts pressure on your upper spine

– causes neck strain

– tense your whole body

Not to mention that by staring at your feet you’re showing off your insecurity. So try holding your head in a neutral position, by looking in front of you.

#11 Dress For Success

Never underestimate the power of the clothes! They can make your run harder in a blink of an eye. If they get wet and stay wet, you will feel uncomfortable through the whole race. To avoid this, you should avoid:

– cotton fabric (choose Dri Fit, Cool Max, Thermax, polypropylene or silk instead);

– clothes that don’t fit you right (too tight or too loose);

– weather inappropriate clothes (don’t forget to check the forecast)

#12 Run Tall

Focusing on your posture can help you a lot more than you actually think.

Running will feel easier if your back is straight, chest are up, shoulders are back and relaxed, and your posture is tall.

You will run faster, get oxygen easier and release the pressure off your back.

#13 Plan Your Rhythm

A famous marathon runner Grete Waitz once said:

“It’s all about pacing. You should make a realistic plan for your race and stick to it.” And she couldn’t said that better!

Make a plan about your pace, and stick to it.

For example, my favorite half-marathon strategy is to run at a comfortable pace the first half, and increase it as the race comes to its finish. That always works for me.

#14 Do a Session Of Yoga Before You Bed Down

Nothing can relax your muscles better than a session of yoga.

Since yoga is so much more than a regular stretching, it provides countless benefits for every runner.

If your marathon is tomorrow morning, you could definitely use its benefits, so open YouTube, type “yoga for runners” and start posing. You’d be amazed of how good your muscles react to the pre-marathon yoga.

#15 Use The Thoughts Replacement Strategy

legs aren't giving up

Constantly thinking about something that hurts, won’t make the pain disappear.

Because of that, the idea is to train your mind and replace the pain with different thoughts.

For example, if you feel a pain in your left calf, try thinking about other existing parts, like your hand, or your shoulders.

When you focus on other parts, you start to feel them too, and the pain minimizes. Yes, this might be a big challenge at first, but once you learn to control it, you’re going to be amazed by its effectiveness.

#16 Don’t Run In Brand New Shoes

This is something I wish you could never experience on a race. Yes, shoes are really important, but what’s much more important is keeping your feet pain free. It’s for the best to run in your everyday running snickers, and leave the experiments for another day.

#17 Don’t Stop

Never ever stop running.

Slow down as much as you want, just make sure you don’t stop completely.

Why? Well, when you stop, it’s going to be twice as hard for you to start running again. Not to mention dropping your pace down – you’ll have to push yourself harder to get back on track.

I always say to myself:

It doesn’t matter how fast you go, as long as you keep going! So keep going, because your legs are not giving up – your head is.

It’s Time For You To Shine On The Start Line!

It’s your turn now!

What you can do is:

Try at least one of these last minute tricks on your next run, and feel the results for yourself.

And most important of all – don’t forget to share 🙂

Short Bio About Monica May From Fit Girl’s Diary

Monica May is a fitness coach that one day decided to start a mission and help every girl, that loves herself enough to start living healthier.

Through her diary, she passes on her fitness story, strongly believing that every girl deserves to get the sneakiest fitness and weight loss tricks – for free.

With the power of her expertise she inspires, motivates and supports, by giving you the best workout plans, guides and tips, to finally change your life.

Athlinks Staff
Posts by the Athlinks Staff are authored by our in-house group of athletes and subject matter experts in the fields of performance sports, nutrition, race organization, and training.

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  1. Some good tips even for someone who has run 26 marathons. I would add a few more tips: try to be encouraging to runners ard you. You don’t know what a friendly smile or nod can do to cheer up you & another runner or if you’ll see that runner again. And by mile 18 , you’ll need some smiles. As for food, whatever worked for your carbo loading meals, stick to that. One time, my pre marathon dinner was not my usual & I regretted it during the marathon. And drink before you think you might need it during the race, especially in hot weather. Thanks, always learning how to improve.

  2. I can’t say I agree with all of these. You should never do anything different for a marathon, including the routine the evening before and the day of. These things you may try first in a regular training run. I am used to running with water; if I don’t take that bottle, I have to stop at all the water stations and am at their mercy for where they are located. That can really slow me down. Changing stride to run on different part of your feet can really muck up your race. The gel before is a great idea, but keep in mind that you can metabolize only approximately 150 calories per hour during a run. You will arrive at stomach distress before the finish line if you don’t count the calories you take in just prior to and during the race—don’t forget the Gatorade calories. Yoga is a terrible idea unless you do that regularly the night before; you can pull a muscle and ruin your whole race.

  3. Monica, this is a great list of important items. I found myself nodding my head as I was reading through the list.
    Good job and thanks. I an going to keep this list to refer back to.
    Derek Townsend

  4. Love your advice on if something hurts focus on another part of the body. I have been doing that for years and it helps when I sprint a 5 k I focus on how my legs still feel good instead of how my breathing is very uncomfortable. When I run at marathon pace and my legs feel really heavy I concentrate on how even and pleasant my breathing is.

  5. #9,10&12 need preparation, it‘s hard and may be dangerous (injuries) to change your running style. It‘s like # 16: never change a running system for the race. But all off theese tricks will help to make u faster in the long row.

  6. It was surprising when you explained that clenching our fists while running can actually be wasteful because it uses up unnecessary energy. Now that I think about it, those looking to participate in a marathon could benefit from working with a running coach so more subtle behaviors like these can be identified and addressed beforehand. It was interesting to learn more about the best way to prepare for marathon running, so thanks for sharing this info!


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