Elite runner Steve Hallman shares 5 tips for a faster marathon

Langhorne's Steve Hallman, shown here winning the Philadelphia 10K in 32 minutes, 18 seconds.

Both the New York City and Philadelphia marathons fall within the next month or so and if you’re planning to run either of these or some other one this fall, it’s always good to hear how elite runners approach the big challenge.

Langhorne native Steve Hallman, considered one of the top 26.2-mile competitors in the area, is more than happy to share some tips that could make your marathon a more fun – and perhaps faster – experience.

Hallman, 30, recently won the Ocean City Half-Marathon in a career-best time of 1:09.10, some six minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.

This after finishing fourth in the Buffalo Marathon last spring.

He’s scheduled to run the Amsterdam Marathon in Europe this Sunday with hopes of running in the 2:25 range.

Hallman’s advice:

>1. Calm the last-minute nerves: Just about every marathon runner gets nervous in the last week or so before the big event. Hallman says the best thing you can do to calm things down is not worry about that last week of training or things like the race day conditions.

“For my first marathon, I wouldn’t take a day off,’’ Hallman says. “I guess I’m a little more confident as I get older and more experienced.

“I would say the best thing to do is not look at the weather. Because you obsess over it. You can’t do anything about it. You have to be prepared a little bit but don’t stress out over it. I do my best not to think about the race. Because you’ll get so worked up over little things that you will almost not enjoy it.

“For me, it’s going from 100 (miles) to 50 and it’s weird having that drop-off. Because you almost feel like you’re doing something wrong. When, in reality, you’re letting all your muscles heal. The best way to think about it is your letting your muscles repair themselves. That’s what calms me down.’’

>2. The Big Taper: After weeks and months of hard, long mileage, it’s difficult to gear things down the last week or two. Even the great runners reduce their mileage by as much as half or more in the final weeks because you don’t want to leave your best performances on the training surface.

“I think it’s hard for runners to take a break,’’ Hallman says. “With a marathon coming up this weekend, I’m actually taking two days off this week because my hamstring is really tight.

“As I get older (age 30), I take the recovery part a lot more seriously now. Anything that you’ve prepared for is already there. If you’re not careful, you’re going to end up hurting yourself. Instead of seeing the long-term thing. As runners, we panic. It’s like, if I take a day off, everything is ruined.

“You don’t think about the three- or four-month build-up. You could take up to 10 days off and not lose any fitness. It gets said around here a lot but trust the process.’’

>3. The long run: If you’re scheduled to run Philly, there should still be at least one or two long weekend runs on your docket.

“That’s kind of the bread and butter of the marathon,’’ Hallman says. “Depending on what your goal is – my longest training run is 22 miles. If this is your first marathon or you’re trying for, say, a four-hour marathon – I would say run that long. Stay on your feet that long so that mentally you can run that long.

“That was the big thing for me when I first got into marathon training.’’

>4. Tempo runs for final stages of training: Lots of runners like to up the tempo to simulate marathon pace as they get closer to race day.

“I like to do tempo runs for the last month or so of training,’’ Hallman says. “I’ll do two miles at marathon pace, a mile off, and then two miles at half-marathon pace. Take a mile off, then go back to marathon pace because it’s more a psychological thing. It teaches you how easy it is to run at marathon pace. I don’t do many track workouts because when I’m running a road race, I train on the road. So I use a GPS watch.’’

>5. Electrolyte replacements, good diet crucial: Throughout your weeks of training, be sure to keep your electrolytes at a high level. You don’t want to deplete trace elements such as potassium, magnesium, etc.

“After a hard workout, I get a good smoothie,’’ Hallman says. “It’s a mix of protein and carbohydrate. Close to a four-to-one ratio.

“And I just eat healthy. I just try to stay away from the junk food, the fast food, the soda. Leading up to the race, I keep thinking. that I will celebrate afterwards.’’


Race calendar


Crooked Billet 5K, Warminster. Contact www.active.com

Slay Sarcoma 5K, Core Creek Park, Yardley. Contact www.slaysarcoma.com


MS Run for Research 5K, 9 a.m., Warminster. Contact www.runforreseach.org

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About Wayne Fish 2338 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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