Frank Bartocci has run more than 600 marathons in the past 30 years, enough to hold the current Minnesota record and a top-20 ranking nationwide. The Rochester native has done the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon (a 7,815-foot climb) and the Savage Seven—an astonishing seven marathons in as many days. Here are his tips for surviving a 26.2:
Get Geared Up: “The most important piece of equipment is, of course, the shoe,” Bartocci says. “Pick one with room in the toe box in case your feet swell.” He also advises sprinkling baby powder in your socks and shoes to keep your feet dry.
- Pick the Right Course: Selecting a manageable race is crucial, especially if it’s your first marathon. “Look at the flatness of the course, and find out if there are any time limits for finishing,” he says.
- Train smart: “As you prepare for the marathon, you should practice equal parts discipline and patience,” Bartocci says. “Discipline will be rewarded.” Build up your distance runs, but don’t exceed 20 miles. Join a training group if it helps maintain your commitment, and be patient as your body acclimates.
- Set the Pace: On race day, surrounded by all the other runners, your energy will be high. At this point, the challenge will be to “hold back the horses,” as Bartocci puts it. “The goal is to run the 26.2 miles at a constant pace, even though the effort to achieve that constancy increases exponentially with time and distance.”
- Revel in the Experience: “Running a marathon is a psychological and spiritual journey—truly a celebration of life,” he says.