Tips for a Successful Bank Of America Chicago Marathon

Tips for a Successful Bank Of America Chicago Marathon

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is quickly approaching, as many of you are enjoying the “pleasures” of tapering, there are a lot of things to think about as you get ready to run through the streets of Chicago.

We reached out to Scott Lewandowski the regional director of Fitness Formula Club and a seasoned marathon runner for some useful tips before, during and after the big day.

Some of these may seem like common sense, but all of them are worth checking out.



Review the course.  Visualize yourself successfully completing each mile. Determine where your support crew with additional supplies 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.  Tell them to wear the same bright  color, get a special Mylar balloon or a cut out of your head on a stick (fan favorite) and then yell like hell, so you can hear them.  Also remind them not to get offended if you don’t see them, you are going to be running after all and might miss them.


Don’t spend a lot of time on your feet preceding the 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.  It is common to have trouble sleeping the night before the race.


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-three hours prior to the marathon consume your “practiced” pre-marathon meal.  The meal should be light, high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein (bananas, bagel, toast, pancakes).  Drink at 8-16 ounces of water.  Rising early allows your body time to wake up and digest your pre-marathon meal.


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, than to do so all at once! Have a water bottle with you at all time.  This will encourage frequent drinking.  Your urine should run clear or pale yellow, not dark


Make a list of all of your essentials and gather them now not later.  Again, the goal is to avoid as much stress as we approach the marathon.  Gather your race clothes, supplements, shoes, packet when you pick it up, 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


Leading up to the race, focus on the positive aspects of your training, your strength and stamina, endurance, and accomplishments.  Visualize yourself finishing strong.  This is aid in easing your nerves.

Be flexible and stay relaxed on race morning!  Be prepared for the unexpected and go with the flow.  Don’t let anything get in the way of a positive mental and physical experience.


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.


Purchase your Gu, PowerGels, and Clif Shots.  Begin taking them after 30 minutes along with water.  My suggestion is on the hour.

Aid Station Tactics - As you approach water stations, aim for the 2nd half of the tables.  Most runners bunch up at the first table.  Make eye contact with the volunteer so you don’t miss your fluids.

During the marathon at the first water station, take water only.  Take a combination of water and Gatorade miles 2 – 16.  After 16, take Gatorade only. You need to consume 6 – 8 ounces at each water station.  If you have trouble drinking on the run, walk through the water stations.  It is optimal to get the fluids “in” you not “on” you.


Keep your eye on the weather and be prepared for anything.  It is always better for the conditions to be colder than warmer.  Wear warm clothing for the morning as you head down to the race.  You will place those in the gear check. 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 (should be able to purchase at the expo).  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.

Pack warm, dry clothing for the end of the race.

Remember all of the clothes you throw away during the race will be picked up and donated, so it is going to a good cause.

MENTAL PLAN: Break the race into smaller pieces to make the marathon easy to digest (mentally).  Set shorter goals, breaking the distance in half, quarters, or 5k distances.  This will ease the daunting thought…26.2 more miles to go!


Use the geometry you thought you would never use!  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 1,500-3,000 feet.  At 5,280 feet per mile, you are adding between a quarter and a half-mile to your race.

LUBE UP: Apply Vaseline or body glide to areas that are likely to chafe; arms, inner thighs, and chest, around the seams of support bras.


Use the time between the 1st and 2nd mile marker to judge your pace.  The 1st mile is a bad benchmark because of your position in line.  Allow runners to pass.  Maintain your pace and position.  They will go around you and will probably come back to you in the later stages of the marathon.

Every mile shake out your arms to loosen up your upper body.  If you have a tight muscle, it is ok to stop and stretch. Run next to someone so you can allow him or her to pace and you can relax. Run off someone’s shoulder in the wind.


Enjoy yourself and smile as you cross the finish!  You did it! Relish your accomplishment!  Look up at the cameras and smile, not at your sports watch!  It makes for a horrible finishers photo!

You’re in an elite group of people.  Less than 1 percent of the population has completed a marathon.


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 in the next 4-5 weeks.  A common rule of thumb is to allow one day of recovery for each mile in the race.

Treat Yourself! Bring your bib to any Fitness Formula Club Spas and receive 10% off your post-race massage

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