How To: Run The Flying Pig

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Planning to take on our hometown marathon? It’s all about the hills. And the weather.

And the hills. And the training. And the hills….

Full marathon or half? Walk or run? Decide early and train to match.

New to this? Follow a marathon training guide and/or join a weekly training group (find info at flyingpigmarathon.com). Running companions can help you stay motivated. Especially in February.

Lose a few. The average Cincinnatian carries a couple extra pounds. The average runner takes 2,000 steps per mile. So dropping just one pound cuts tons from the load on your knees on race day.

Eat right. Fresh vegetables, lean meats, and whole-grain pasta for the foreseeable future. Graeter’s can wait.

Prepare for the hills. How you handle the course between miles 6 and 11 marks you as a local veteran or clueless outsider. Up Gilbert Avenue, through Eden Park, and up Victory Parkway: Run this leg slowly at least twice before race day. Tip: Look down at the ground in front of you to reduce the sensation of climbing.

Know the course. Run or drive the route once before race day (there’s a map at flyingpigmarathon.com). It’ll help you prepare for elevation changes.

Arrive early. Start is 6:30 a.m.; Mehring Way closes at 4 a.m., and surrounding streets are blocked off around 5. Give yourself plenty of time to park and wade through the Super Bowl–sized crowd.

Know your pace. The “Pig Pen” at the start is jammed with full and half marathoners. Start too far ahead and you’ll be overrun by the crowd; too far back and you’ll be dodging slower runners for miles.

Be ready for tricky Ohio Valley weather. Rain? It’s possible. Sleet? Might happen. Tropical heat wave? Hey, it’s Cincinnati. Appropriate clothing is important. Check your bag of warm-up clothes before you start for after-race pickup; along the route, castoffs will be donated to city charities and shelters.

Bring gel packs. Water/Gatorade stops are plentiful, and there are Power-bar Gel stations at miles 18 and 22, but most runners need more than that; come equipped to prevent bonking.

Organize your fans. The Flying Pig website has a list of spectator (AKA “squealer”) viewing spots and directions to the victory party on Mehring Way. And plan to wear your medal and walk in Pig Night at the Ballpark on May 10 when the Reds take on the Milwaukee Brewers.

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