I can hardly call myself a seasoned veteran of marathon running ( I only have 2 under my belt) but I sure have learned a thing or two,
I am sure you have been tracking your mileage, following a plan and building up to those long slow distance runs by now and soon you will find yourself in taper madness but whether this is your first or 21st marathon , there are still things you need to remember.
Here is a list of things I do to get myself ready to run 26.2 with only 4 weeks left.
- I run a half marathon as if it was a race day. I put all my effort into it and I race. This past Sunday I did just that and I killed it, beating my old PR of 2;22. I ran a solid 2:20 – on a treadmill to boot. By doing this “race” I was able to challenge myself both physically and mentally in order to prepare myself for race day. I am by no means one who “races” as I am typically one of the slowest out there. For me this is a chance to get my head in the game and review what went wrong and what went right seeing as I will be repeating this distance 2x in the next 4 weeks.
- I figure out my nutrition and hydration plan. This is vital to anyone running for hours on a course. You maybe one of the lucky ones who sails through in under 4 hours or you could be like me plodding along out there for 5+ hours, regardless we all need to know what our bodies like and dislike on race day. I do not carry fluids as I have always found aid stations to be readily available. I do carry GU’s because my tummy likes them and they don’t give me any GI issues. I do make sure when travelling through the water stations to grab both a Gatorade and a water and down them both. I do not tolerate a lot of sugar so mixing these makes it much easier on the belly.
- I know what shoes, socks and clothes I am going to wear and I have taken them on a test run. The shoes and socks are critical, never ever wear new shoes to a race. You absolutely need to work them in and make sure they are working for you. I had a bad experience after a race when I had to biggest blood blisters on both my feet from ill fitting shoes that I thought were ok. Same goes with the outfit, know that your articles of clothing are not going to ride up , chafe or fall down during the run. Take your entire race day outfit on a run at least a week prior to the race. Layer, layer, layer is the key to running any fall marathon. The temps can change significantly over the course of the morning so you need to know what to discard, tie up or toss to crowds!
- Do Not build up mileage in those last few weeks. You have probably been religiously following either a 18,16 or 14 week training plan with a very dedicated run schedule. Do not think that this is the time to start adding in extra runs, doing more speed work, running extra hill drills or pushing too hard on those long slow runs. You will be running your longest distance probably this week and then you will start the decrease in mileage aka tapering. Learn from this long run both physically and mentally and challenge yourself but don’t race it quite yet, you need to get a feeling for how the distance feels.
- Run at the same time as race day. This is also very important because if you are running most of your training runs after work or in the late afternoon, you need to experience what it feels like to run at 7am. The temps are different and your body is also in a different state. Those after work hours may have you limber and loose from being busy all day and you need to know what it feels like to run when you have just woken your body up.
- Lastly, let your mind positively embrace the fact that you are about to do something that not many have or ever will do. On those last few runs while you are spending a lot of alone time with your head, keep telling yourself that you got this. You have worked so hard for the past few months training both your body and mind to conquer this feat. Repeat that mantra in your head over and over so that when race day approaches you get to that start line focused and determined to finish what you started so many months ago.