Run an Easy Course
A course with a lot of hills is generally more difficult for a runner. Many people think you can make up the time on the downhills, but downhill running causes significantly more muscle damage, which can make a strong last 10K virtually impossible in the marathon.
At any marathon, you need to run the tangents. Courses are measured using the least distance possible around turns; so it's critical that you don't run those turns wide. Cut across the road if possible, and run the shortest distance around the curves along the course.
Runners looking for a new marathon PR should find a flat course where the terrain supports their speed goals. Races like the London Marathon, Houston Marathon and Chicago Marathon, are known to be fast courses, where a runner can chase a personal best.
Run a Local Race
If possible, try to run a race that's close to home. While it sounds fun to run an international race in another country, it's much more stressful. Traveling and dealing with time zone changes can disrupt your taper. If you want to run well, take advantage of any opportunity to reduce stress in the last few weeks before your marathon.
If you look at the Olympics, most marathoners travel to the host city weeks before the race so they have time to acclimate to the weather, get used to the area, and reduce their stress level before the race. Most of us don't have that luxury, so the other option is to stay local.
Those marathoners who want to improve their personal best—or reach a big goal like qualifying for Boston—can use this advice to run faster than ever. It's not just about the training; it's also about the planning.marathon.