Friday, September 12, 2014

Final Marathon Preparation

I'm both nervous and excited for my first marathon -- tomorrow!  In preparation for any marathon, here are some final tips...

Set two goals. Review your training and set one goal for a good race day, and another as a backup plan in case it's hot or windy or you're just not feeling great.

See success. On several nights before going to bed, or first thing in the morning, visualize yourself crossing the finish line as the clock shows a new personal best.

Chill out. Reduce the outside stresses in your life as much as possible the last week.

Carbo-load, don't fat-load. During the last three days, concentrate on eating carbohydrate-rich foods, such as pasta, potatoes, bread, fruit and fruit juice, low-fat milk and yogurt, low-fat treats, and sports drinks. It's the carbs, after all, not fat or protein, that will fuel you on race day.

The day prior to the race:

Lay out the clothing that you will wear. Do not wear a new outfit for the race.

Don't wear new shoes in the marathon.

Be prepared for anything. Fill a gym bag with the essentials: a dry shirt, an extra pair of socks, tissue (you never know when the portable toilet supply will run out), extra shoelaces, gloves, hat, lubricant, extra safety pins, blister care products, and whatever else you choose not to live without. 

Make sure you have picked up your race number. Don't spend hours on your feet at the race expo. If possible, pick up your number early.

Don't eat too late at night and make sure you are well-hydrated.

Plan when you will leave, how you will get to the race, and where you will park. You don't want to get lost prior to the race.

If you did not tolerate the electrolyte drink that will be used during the race when you were training, plan on another source of calories, such as gel packets or gummy bears.

Carry a water bottle filled with your favorite replacement drink. Friends along the course might be able to restock your supply.

Be sure to have tried your fluid and gel supplements prior to the event day. Even small variations in sugar concentration can cause stomach upset during an event.

Review the map of the course: know the locations of water stops, aid stations, and portable toilets.

Race day

Get up early. Plan on arriving at the start at least an hour before the race. You do not want to feel pressured for time before the race.

Take in some calories two to three hours before the start. Whatever worked prior to your long training runs is a good idea. Make sure that you are drinking water, too.

While getting dressed, lubricate any areas in which chafing has been a problem. If blisters or hot spots have been a problem, treat the site prophylactically (using moleskin, or whatever worked during training).

Don't forget to pin on your number.

Arrive at the start expecting to find a line at the portable toilets. Since you have time to spare, there will be no need to panic.

Don't worry about a warm-up run. Walking from the car will loosen you up a little. You might want to do some easy stretching (if you are used to this).

Just before heading to the starting line, take off your sweats and check your gym bag. Now head to the start and situate yourself in an appropriate spot in the pack. Don't worry about starting too slowly. It will give you a chance to warm up your muscles and save you from the agony of starting out too fast.

You have worked hard to get here. Enjoy the adventure ahead.

During the race:

Drink at every water station. Do not wait until you are thirsty — that is too late.

Start slowly; a fast start usually spells disaster. You can start running faster later in the race.

Go with what you know. Stick to your plan and what you've practiced during training.


Think laps, not miles.

Go hard late. No matter how much you're raring to go, keep things under control until well past the halfway mark. Then you can start racing.

Talk to yourself. Repeat your mantra.

Finish with a smile on your face.  Someone might be taking your picture.

After the race:

No matter what the results are, be proud of yourself.

Drink. Even though you drank during the race, you will still be a little dehydrated.

Replenish carbohydrates. There is a 2-hour window following a hard effort during which absorption of carbohydrates may be enhanced. If you can't eat them, then drink them. A little protein mixed in improves recovery. Do not choose anything extremely high in sugar or fat, it will cause stomach upset.

Keep moving. Do lower intensity cardiovascular movements, such as walking, for 60 minutes after the race. This will diminish a lot of the post-race stiffness. Stretch gently.

Put ice on anything that is sore. Apply ice for 15 minutes several times over the course of the day.

Don't plan on running during the week after the race. Walking, swimming, or cycling at an easy pace will work well.

When you resume running, start easy — 30 minutes three to four times per week — and increase gradually from there. Most experts will tell you to avoid speed work for a month after a marathon.

Start planning for your next marathon. Review your training; determine what worked well and what presented a problem. Adjust your training schedule accordingly. Experience is the best teacher.

Allow your body to recover. An extreme athletic event like a marathon is incredibly stressful on the body. The body needs the rest; otherwise, problems such as injuries, fatigue, decreases in performance, and immune suppression can result.

tips from Runner's World and Cleveland Clinic

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  1. Good luck and have fun Laima! Can't wait to hear all about it.

  2. Great advice! Looking forward to hearing about your race!


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