Dean Karnazes’ Three Tips for Running a Successful San Francisco Marathon

1) Listen to Everyone, Follow No One

Fitbit Ambassador Dean Karnazes often tells runners to “Listen to everyone, follow no one.” But what does he mean? “All of us are built differently and we certainly train differently,” says Karnazes.

You can take Karnazes’ advice about individual differences and incorporate it into various aspects of your marathon training. For example, do you prefer training in the morning or late afternoon? Does your training time improve if you mix up your running days with yoga or pilates? Do you enjoy running with music or with a friend? And, asks Karnazes, “How many miles will you need to achieve each week for your optimal success?”

“Most important to me is base mileage, so get your base mileage up to a level that is suitable for you. An elite runner might be at 80 – 120 miles per week. For someone who is sub-elite, that could be anywhere from a minimum of 40 – 60 miles per week.”

Of course, for many of you training for The San Francisco Marathon (TSFM), that base mileage number will be much lower and will build as the event date nears. Regardless of your miles, keep focused on your own personal goals.

TIP #1: While it’s worthwhile to listen to experts and your peers, know your body and mind, and develop a training plan that’s best for YOU.

2) Have a Plan on Race Day

“I think it is good to have a plan on race day,” says Karnazes, “because then at least you know ideally what you are targeting. When I say a plan, I usually mean split times, what you think you will cover the first quarter (I like to break it down into quarter marathons). Other people like to know where they will be at the half, but I like to get a little more granular than that and say – where will you be at the quarter of the marathon and what time do you want to be at?”

According to Karnazes, this requires some course analysis, especially given the physical landscape of TSFM with all its elevation changes. For example, your first quarter split time for TSFM will likely be different than your split time for the California International Marathon which takes place in a city as flat as Sacramento.

“What you run those first 6.55 miles is going to be a lot different at the San Francisco Marathon because what you encounter on course at SFM, these little “speed bumps”, are going to slow you down as far as your targets,” says Karnazes.

TIP #2: Factor in the SFM’s course elevation changes as you develop your race day plan, particularly when targeting your ideal split times.

3) Dress Appropriately

Usually when exercising, if the temperature is cool and there is low humidity, individuals experience what is known as “evaporative cooling” and their perspiration evaporates onto their clothing, subsequently cooling them off.

However, in San Francisco, Karnazes says, “…the one thing that surprised me (with TSFM) was that even though the temperatures are really cool, it is easy to overheat. I see that all the time with runners, especially new runners, because it is very damp and so you don’t get the evaporative cooling.”

“When the humidity is high (as it is in San Francisco), and particularly when you run in the fog, you don’t get evaporative cooling. People tend to overdress (for TSFM) and I see a lot of people have heat issues even though the temperature is really cool,” says Karnazes.

TIP #3: Wear breathable clothing, layers if you must, and hydrate well before the race – even if it is a foggy, wet morning!

Named one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the World” by TIME magazine for his long list of personal accomplishments, ultra marathoner Dean Karnazes is not only a record-breaking endurance athlete, but also a New York Times bestselling author and successful businessman. California homegrown, but world-renowned, Dean will be back again this year to run the UltraMarathon at The San Francisco Marathon on July 31, 2016, sporting his trusty Fitbit Surge to track yet another awesome athletic endeavor. A Bay Area local, Dean will definitely be sharing his SFM running tips and inspiration, so catch him if you can!

1 Reply to "Dean Karnazes’ Three Tips for Running a Successful San Francisco Marathon"

  • comment-avatar
    ArchDuke Kenneth
    June 28, 2016 (2:40 pm)

    These are excellent advice Dean Karnazes! I have been dividing my marathons into halves or thirds and get all fuddled head around mile 8 while loosing my pace and seemingly impossible plan.