7 Tips for a successful marathon

My nephew Stephen having run the Marathon, 2015

Running the Marathon is an incredible challenge and it is important to prepare properly both in training prior to the event and on the day. This article includes 7 vital tips for a safe and healthy marathon and first aid advice should something go wrong.

Wear appropriate clothing – dress for the weather conditions, whilst taking into account the fact that you are exercising. Ensure that someone has warm clothes for you when you finish the race. Ensure your trainers fit well and are worn in and comfortable. If there is rain (or snow) forecast ensure they have sufficient grip. Avoid wearing clothes with seams that can rub and cause friction burns. Wear clothes you have run in previously and know they are comfortable for the duration of the run. If you are prone to chafing apply petroleum jelly or anti chafing talc and it may be helpful to cover your nipples with plasters.

Warm up

Make sure you take time to warm up and stretch properly before the race and don’t forget to cool down too, with further stretches when you have finished.

Drink Water:

Drink sufficient amounts of fluid to remain hydrated but do not drink too much or too fast as this can cause Hyponatraemia and make you seriously ill. Initial symptoms are similar to dehydration, but this lack of sodium and salt inbalance can cause seizures, coma and can be fatal. Sports drinks are considered beneficial for longer runs.

Heat Exhaustion

If you begin to feel sick, get a headache or cramps, feel dizzy and your skin becomes cold and clammy; you may be suffering heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion is serious so it is important that you get help as soon as possible. If you are training lie down in a shady spot with your legs raised, take regular sips of a sports drink and ideally call someone to come and be with you and get medical advice.

If you are running the Marathon and develop the symptoms of heat exhaustion, listen to your body and rest for a while. Get checked out by the medical support and only resume with their say so.

Drink sufficient amounts of fluid to remain hydrated. Drink small amounts regularly and avoid drinking a lot of water too quickly. Sports drinks are thought to be better than pure water for runs longer than an hour as they help you to maintain your salt balance.  Do not drink too much and avoid drinking for 45 minutes prior to the race.

Cramp is a common problem caused by the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles but this can be avoided by maintaining sufficient levels of salts and fluids and remaining well hydrated. Drink sports drinks during the race and long training and include salt in your normal diet a few days prior to the race.


If you get a blister and the skin is still intact, leave it well alone.

If the blister is broken or likely to break; cover with a clean, dry, non-adhesive dressing that extends well beyond the edges of the blister. Alternatively apply a blister plaster.

To avoid blisters, ensure you are wearing shoes that are worn in and comfortable.

Sprains and strains


Knee joint injuries

If your knee is injured; lie down supporting your knee in a raised position. Do not try to walk on your injured leg or straighten your knee.

Don’t eat or drink anything in case you need an anaesthetic, get medical attention.

Nipple bleeding and friction burns

This is caused by friction damaging the skin

You can prevent friction burn to nipples by covering them with plasters or petroleum jelly

If your nipples bleed when training; wash and dry them carefully and then cover with a breathable plaster

Sometimes, nipple bleeding may be due to more serious problems. If in doubt, consult your doctor.


Enjoy running your Marathon, stay fit and well and thank you to everyone for putting this huge amount of effort in to raise money for such valuable causes.


First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

Email: emma@firstaidforlife.org.uk or telephone 020 8675 4036 for more information.
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