The Clock Is Ticking, If You’re Planning On Taking Part In a Fall Marathon This Year!

Posted on August 23, 2017 by Beth Hartman

If you made the decision to take part in a Fall Marathon this year, then you know that you should have been hitting the road since at least early June, after all, there are now only about 8 - 12 weeks left until a majority of them begin to take place. They usually take place in early October/November and go right on through the end of the year, depending of course on what part of the country you live in. A marathon, consisting of a grueling 26.2-mile race will test the Mettle" of any runner, especially if you're new to running them! Below are a few suggestions to make sure you have a check list of things to follow in order to make sure you’re making it to that finish line.

Shoes: If you’ve been running for a while now, you know the importance of a good pair of running shoes. Most trainers recommend that you should retire your old “Feel Good” shoes after you’ve reached the 3-400 mile training goals. This is just plain good advice since like a car’s tires, they get worn down and worn out after the miles they were designed for. If you haven’t partnered up with a good athletic shoe store, one that promotes running and walking for your health, then find one. These people are more than just shoe salesmen/women. They know the sport of running, fast walking or just plain walking for your health. This is their business and they should be good at what they do/sell. They are going to analyze your stride, in house, (if they are any good) to see if things have changed for you if you are a repeat customer. Then they will fit you with a light-weight shoe, but one that also offers you the support where you need it. When getting maybe a month out from the race, you may want to get yourself a new pair of shoes that will carry you across the finish line feeling good. But the ‘Tip” is to wear your race shoes during a 10-mile training run and see how they feel on your feet, and if you experience any blisters, rubbing or chaffing. It’s better to find out earlier than on race day!

And don’t skip on your socks! Remember, your socks are the only cushion you have between your skin and the shoes you’re wearing. You want to make sure they fit just right for you as well and that they don’t contribute to your perspiration, as this can also lead to blistering and chaffing.

While you’re about 9 or 8 weeks out, you can try doing a mockup of your 26.2-mile endurance run. Run at your training pace, this should be a pace that you’re comfortable with but one that allows you to kick it into gear when you're about 8 miles out from the finish. With eight miles to go, begin running one minute per mile slower than your marathon goal pace. Then speed up every two miles to run the last couple of miles at goal pace or slightly faster. This run will teach you how to up your effort as you become tired.

If at all possible, start doing runs on the same topography as the marathon you're planning to run in. For example, go up and down lots of hills, in order to simulate that you’re running in New York City if this is the one you signed up to tackle.
If you live in a flat area and are preparing for a hilly marathon, do several runs on a treadmill, and alter the incline throughout. If you don’t have access to a treadmill, run on stairways or stadium steps. (Hey, drastic times call for drastic measures.)

When you’re a month out, it’s a good time to give your body a test as to how well it has progressed during your “Training Up” for the big race. Get yourself registered for a half marathon. Participating in a 10 miler will provide a powerful mental lift, and it will give you a little rest period in the few days before and after the race as you taper and recover from it. Aim to run the half-marathon slightly faster than your marathon goal pace. If you can’t find a tune-up race, recruit friends to accompany you on a long run, with the last several miles faster than marathon pace.

Drink on the Run
Practice during your remaining long and semi long run with the sports drinks and energy gels  you intend to refuel with during the race.

We like the electrolyte packed drinks from Nuun that come in different flavors which allow you to change up your thirst quenching drinks while your training and gives you the opportunity to decide which flavor you’ll be taking with you on your 26.2 mile run.

Then to help you re-stoke your furnace as you pile up the miles the GU Energy Gels, which also come in various flavors that provides your body with the essential nutrition it needs to keep going for miles and miles and hours and hours. It goes down easy, and it goes to work fast so you don't have to slow down.

Serious-minded racers and those with finicky stomachs should be using the sports drinks and chews that they are used to using during their training. The race is NOT the time to be trying anything new that your body has not had time to grow accustomed to. And remember that sports drinks do triple duty when compared with water by providing fluid, carbohydrates, and electrolytes, the most important being sodium.

Try NOT to overdo it! Stick to your plan when training for a marathon—it isn’t like cramming for a test. That is, doing more miles than you’re used to in the last few weeks will hurt, not help your race! Even if you’re feeling great, don’t up the ante and increase your training. This is the time when many runners have been at it for two months or more and are becoming used to a certain level of training. Draw strength from the hard work you’ve put in. Have confidence in what you’ve been doing. From here on out, you’re just maintaining your fitness. And Most Important, get plenty of sleep!

Put the Jitters to rest! Four or five days before the marathon, do a two- or three-mile marathon-pace, run in your marathon outfit and shoes. Picture yourself on the course running strong and relaxed. Besides boosting your confidence, this run will provide one last little bit of conditioning and will help you lock in to race pace on marathon day. If possible, run at the same time of day as the start of your marathon. This way, your body’s rhythms–including the all-important bathroom routine–will be in sync with marathon needs come race day. The more times you can do this, the better, but shoot for at least the last three days before the race.

Set Yourself 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. So many things can go wrong in a marathon that you need that secondary goal to stay motivated if things aren’t perfect, which they seldom are. So golden rule is always be prepared for the unexpected, hence the two goal rule.

Your primary goal is the one you’ve been working toward during your training, whether it’s a personal best, or breaking a set number of hours. Your secondary goal should keep you motivated at the 22-mile mark on a bad day, finishing in the top 50 percent, slowing only 10 minutes over the second half, or just reaching the darn finish line.

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, and sports drinks. It’s the carbs, after all, not fat or protein, that will fuel you on race day. What’s important is increasing the percentage of your calories that come from carbs, not simply eating more of everything. Since you’ll be tapering and expending fewer calories, you don’t have to consume a great deal more food than usual. Rather, make sure your food choices are carbohydrate-rich—for example, spaghetti with red sauce, instead of Alfredo sauce, or a bagel versus a croissant.

Slow Your Roll:
Reduce the outside stresses in your life as much as possible the last week. This is not a good time in your life for say, changing jobs.

Try to have work projects under control, politely decline invitations to late nights out, and so on. Most of all, stay off your feet, save museum tours and shopping sprees for after the marathon, and don’t spend four hours the day before the marathon checking out the latest energy gel flavors at the race expo. If you’re into it, get into your yoga phase of mind set and let your mind find that happy place.

Eat Breakfast The Day of The Marathon:
Two to three hours before the start, eat a carbohydrate-rich breakfast, even if that means getting up at an early hour and then going back to bed. The reason: As you slept, your brain was active and using the glycogen (stored carbohydrate) from your liver. Breakfast restocks those stores, so you’ll be less likely to run out of fuel. Aim for a few hundred calories, such as a bagel and banana or toast and a sports bar. At the minimum, consume a sports recovery drink, or a bland, well-tolerated liquid food such as Ensure or Boost.

Warm Up-Get Limber 
But just a little. Even the best marathoners in the world do only a little jogging beforehand, because they want to preserve their glycogen stores and keep their core body temperature down. If you’re a faster runner with a goal pace significantly quicker than your training pace, do no more than 10 minutes of light jogging, finishing 15 minutes before the start. Precede and follow your jog with stretching. If you’ll be running the marathon at about your training pace, skip the jog. Walk around a bit in the half hour before the start, and stretch.

Start Slow, Remember, there are a lot of miles between you and the finish line. Run the first two to three miles 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace. This preserves precious glycogen stores for later in the race so you can finish strong. Just saying, it’s always good advice to learn from someone that has gone before you so you can benefit from what they have also have accomplished.

Finish! Yes we know that by mile #23 you’re just about all in. But talk to yourself, be your own coach! Give yourself that pep talk you need right here and now. Remember, the pain, exhaustion and fatigue will pass, but the memory of conquering this goal you've set for yourself and that feeling of pride that you’ve accomplished it, well, that feeling, will be with you forever!

BE STONG and You can do it!


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