Health & Wellness

Uta's marathon training tip of the day: Avoid trying anything new

Uta Pippig is a marathon legend, the first woman to win three consecutive Boston marathons. As TODAY's Natalie Morales prepares to attempt her sixth marathon, and first run in Boston, on April 21, Pippig is sharing her daily training tips with 

Dear Boston Marathon Runners and Dear Natalie,

If you are to achieve your personal best, it is important to take extra-special care of yourself in the final two days before your marathon. The most challenging aspects of your training and preparation are behind you—and now I hope you can relax and have some fun. Everything you do should be geared towards helping you optimize your mental and physical reserves so you can run the marathon of your life.

Legendary runner Uta Pippig, winning the Boston Marathon in 1995.

An important thought upfront: Avoid trying anything new. Have confidence in the pre-race routine that you tried out already. Just take it easy and save your energy for race day.

That also means avoiding the common mistakes which some marathoners (including the elite runners!) fall victim to by training too much. It not only will not help your performance, but may actually harm it by leaving you unnecessarily tired or sore. If you really feel you need a run to release pre-race tension, then jog for a few miles, making sure it feels easy and smooth to conserve your energy.

An enjoyable and effective pre-race preparation is to treat yourself to a massage to loosen tense muscles and relax tight nerves. If it is your first massage, make sure to ask for a light and gentle one.

Your most important decision about equipment will be your choice of footwear. Be sure to wear shoes you have used for at least two long runs and for some faster sessions so you know they won’t bother you over the course of 26.2 miles. Everything you wear—like socks, your race singlet, glasses if you need them, etc.—should have been tested during your training so that you feel comfortable with them.

A simple but very important pre-race task is to check the weather. Anyone from the Boston area knows you can have four seasons in one day. But being aware of the expected conditions will get you prepared mentally and help you decide on your clothing.

With regard to nutrition, concentrate on food high in carbohydrates and eat in small amounts throughout the day to slowly store glycogen, the preferred source of fuel for the marathon. And now is the time to prepare for your hydration routine: drinking small amounts of water throughout the day before your marathon. For more information, please visit one of my earlier posts on nutrition via

And finally, since there is so much excitement around Boston on this Marathon weekend, maybe you could go to the pre-race expo or to one of the clinics. Feeding off that atmosphere can increase your energy level. Just be sure to go easy on the free food samples. The next two days are about celebrating all of your hard work. Enjoy them!

Natalie Morales is running the Boston marathon to raise money for The One Fund, which supports victims of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing and their families, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which helps people with disabilities remain active in sports. Learn more and donate on Natalie's Crowdrise page. 

Uta Pippig won the Boston Marathon three times, the New York City marathon once, and the Berlin marathon three times. Born in what was then East Germany, she is now an American citizen based in Boulder, Colo., where she coaches runners, has a health foundation called Take the Magic Step and does motivational speaking with her Running To Freedom series.