There comes a time as your marathon nears that there is seemingly nothing else you can do. You’ve put in countless miles. Your friends are tired of hearing that you can’t go out for drinks because you’re training. You’ve started checking the weather forecast 10 days out. Before you hand your big day over to fate, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure the race lives up to your expectations..
REMEMBER THE GOLDEN RULE OF MARATHONING: NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.
> Everything you wear on race day should have been worn before on a long run. Save that cute shirt you bought at the expo for after the marathon. New clothes and shoes can leave you with blisters or chafing. Stick with what you know so there are no surprises during the race.
> The golden rule also applies to your hydration and nutrition. Do not experiment with something new because you think it will improve your race. Stick to the same breakfast that you’ve been typically eating before long runs. During the race, use the same gels and drinks that you used during training. Mile 20 is not the time to find out that your stomach won’t tolerate something new.
TRUST YOUR TRAINING. REALLY, REALLY TRUST IT.
> Those long Saturday morning runs, the mid-week speed work, the easy runs with friends—they all had a point: to get you to the start line on race day ready to run. You cannot cram for a marathon. Know that all the miles you ran over the past months prepared you for this day.
> The taper is part of your training and you have to trust it. Squeezing in “just one more long run” a week before your race will only make you tired. Your taper should be a time to recover from the months of training so you are able to arrive at the race rested. Respect the taper.
> There will be rough spots, but how you deal with them will make the difference in your race. Envision the possible scenarios and how you will cope. Repeating a mantra can get you through them. Don’t think of the miles ahead; try to pass the next person or run to the next aid station. Marathons are as challenging mentally as they are physically.
> Set a goal for the perfectly executed race, but also have a B goal in mind if things don’t go as planned. Temperature, wind, and hills will make things harder and slower, so adjust your expectations accordingly. Visualize reaching your goal and crossing the finish line in celebration.
HAVE A PLAN.
> If you are traveling to a race, organize a list and pack early. Triple check that you have everything you need for the race so that you avoid breaking the rule of nothing new! Check the weather forecast so that you have a general idea of potential weather so you can plan your race outfit.
> Make sure you know how to get to the race and where to park. There are certain things in life you don’t want to be late for—the start of your race is one them. Arrive early so you have extra time to go to the bathroom, check your bag, and find your spot on the start line.
Do you have questions about getting started or finding a plan to work for you? Stop in and talk to anyone on our staff. We’ll be happy to help!
Rachel Randall is the go-to girl for all marketing, media, and events at Fleet Feet Sports. She has run more marathons that she can count, and will be joining many of you on the start line of the 2016 St. Jude Marathon Weekend and the 2017 Boston Marathon.