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Your Chicago Marathon: Before, During and After!

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Racked's own fitness guru, Rea Frey lets us in on some of expert runner, Scott Lewandowski's tips and tricks... just in time for the Chicago Marathon...

[Image via Nike]

With the Chicago Marathon quickly approaching, it's not too late to get your race day plans in order. Whether you're simply a bystander ready to cheer with coffee and claps or you're actually running the race, everyone can benefit from some stellar marathon advice from veteran marathon runner Scott Lewandowski. Also the regional director at FFC, Scott shares his top tips for mastering the marathon – whether it's your first or fifth.


1. Review the course. Visualize yourself successfully completing each mile. Determine where your support crew will be stationed along the course. It is important that you are specific on which side of the road your friends and family will be and what they will be wearing.

2. Relax and rest. Don't spend a lot of time on your feet pre-race. Take it easy the week prior to the marathon. Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep (especially two nights before the marathon).

3. Eat a balanced diet. Eat a balanced diet focusing on complex carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, and whole grains), protein, and fat. Increase your carbohydrate intake to 65-70% four days prior to the race. Cut back slightly on protein and fat. Avoid introducing your body to new foods during the last week. Two to three hours prior to the marathon consume your practiced pre-marathon meal. The meal should be light, high in carbs and low in fat and protein (bananas, bagel, toast, pancakes, etc). Drink 8-16 ounces of water.

4. Hydrate. Drink water all day long during the final two weeks. You should be consuming at least 90-100 ounces of water per day. It is optimal to drink frequently all day rather than at once. Have a water bottle with you. This will encourage frequent drinking. Your urine should run clear or pale yellow, not dark.

5. Pack Your Bags. Gather your race clothes, supplements, shoes, packet, sunglasses, hat, etc. and place it in a central location inside your home by Friday. Make sure your packet has all the items it is supposed to have inside before leaving the expo.


1. Course: Be careful on turns. Don't get caught on the inside of a turn. You risk twisting an ankle on a curb. Keep your arms out to your side so you are not pushed over.

2. Food: Take Gus, PowerGels or Clif Shots after 30 minutes with water. As you approach water stations, aim for the second half of the tables. At the first water station, take water only. Drink water and Gatorade miles 2-16. After mile 16, drink only Gatorade. Consume 6-8 oz. liquid at each water station.

3. Weather: Be prepared for anything. Wear warm clothing as you head down to the race. As you head to the starting line approximately 30 minutes prior to the start of the race, wear your racing gear as your lowest layer of clothing, place a long sleeve throwaway shirt on top, wear a 55 gallon garbage bag with holes cut out for head and arms, and throwaway gloves. Once the race starts, you will shed the garbage bag. Once warmed up, you will shed the throwaway long sleeve and be in your racing gear and gloves until you decide to toss the gloves. If you know where you family will be, you could pass the clothing on to them. Know that clothes left on the course go to a charity organization. Pack warm, dry clothing for the end of the race.

4. Back to Geometry: The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Moving around takes approximately 10-20 feet; 150 times in the early stages of the marathon will equal 1500-3000 feet. At 5,280 feet per mile, you are adding a quarter to half-mile to your race.

5. Lube Up: Apply Vaseline or body glide to areas likely to chafe: arms, inner thighs, chest and around the seams of support bras.


1. Relax. Enjoy yourself and smile as you cross the finish line. Relish your accomplishment. You're in an elite group of people. Less than 1 percent of the population has completed a marathon.

2. Recover. Pick up your gear and change quickly to avoid getting chilled. Drink water and Gatorade at the finish and throughout the day. The first 30 minutes is the most crucial time after the marathon. Take it easy the next 4-5 weeks. A common rule of thumb is to allow one day of recovery for each mile in the race.

3. Indulge. Treat yourself. Like many great spas this weekend, FFC is having a special. Bring your bib to any FFC Spa and receive 10% off your post-race massage.
· FFC [Official Site]