How to stay on course for the Marathon

Less than a week to go until showtime! This is when the last 16 weeks are reduced to a mantra: trust your training. There doesn’t seem to be much left that can be done that will get me any more ready for the marathon than I already am.

Last week we discussed the importance of proper rest, nutrition and hydration in the last two weeks, so assuming I’m practicing what I’m preaching (I am!), what else am I doing this week to assure I stay on course?

This week, besides continuing to scale back on my workouts and resisting the urge to do anything else in place of the longer runs, I will be focused on preparations that will reduce or eliminate any pre-race anxiety.

Monday afternoon I got a relaxing massage – not the deep tissue, sports massages runners usually get. Those leave me feeling like I’ve done another workout. While they serve a purpose and I highly recommend them, the week prior to the marathon is not the time. Monday’s massage was to reduce tension and get me as relaxed as possible.

Tuesday I reviewed logistics and made sure I had correct times and locations on my calendar for all of the events surrounding the marathon. Did I know all the wheres and whens? What were the details of the hotel reservation, marathon expo/packet pick-up, my running club’s pre-race dinner, race day parking, start time, etc. I also want to make sure everything I need to do fits with everything else going on in my life.  This is also my daughter’s Senior Prom weekend and while I’m out of the house on Sunday, my realtor is having an open house. I need to work around all of that.

Wednesday (today) I begin making some piles of the things I’d need to pack. Making a written list here is good too. What will I need pre-race, during the race, and post race? What will I wear? Don’t forget stuff like phone chargers – and a running watch and it’s charger! And like packing for any trip, do you have the medications you need? Toiletries?

Destination Marathon Packing List

  • Pajamas, Toiletries, Medication(s), Phone & charger
  • Race Apparel: underwear, shorts/tights, race top, socks, running shoes, deodorant, body glide, SPI belt (or similar for phone and keys), watch & charger, gu or gel or other race fuel, bib #, safety-pins, hat (and gloves and arm warmers depending on weather), sunscreen, sunglasses, throw-away clothing or mylar blanket from a previous race if it will be cold at the start.
  • Post Race: change of clothing (don’t forget socks and underwear), small towel, powder, deodorant, Advil, Band-Aids, Neosporin.

Thursday is the day for last minute details. Laundry. Purchases of any missing items (although as I mentioned last week – nothing new on race day that hasn’t already been tried during training). Check the weather forecast and make final decision about race attire. Make sure everything is clean and ready to go.

Friday I pack. And go to bed as early as possible. I have often heard it said that we shouldn’t be nervous about not sleeping well the night before a race (it’s hard to anyway), that it’s most important to get a really good rest two night’s before. Also make a plan for pre-race food. No one can go into a marathon without some breakfast. I go with coffee and cinnamon raisin bagel from a Dunkin Donuts between the hotel and the start (which I already found on the map). Some hotels where runners stay offer breakfast. Best to know in advance.

Saturday, as soon as I get to the hotel (and for local races I do this at home), I will lay out all my race clothing and equipment – make a “flat runner” with all the stuff I will need to put on first thing in the morning (when I am still a little bleary-eyed). Additional needed items go in the gear check bag.  Charge your watch then turn it off. I had a really weird issue where my watch was fully charged the night before the Chicago Marathon and then was completely dead in the morning when I got up. I managed to charged it some, but only enough for about 15 miles and the stress that it caused going into the race was really annoying – and avoidable.

2017 New Jersey “Flat Runner”

Then it’s off to the Expo to pick up my race number and look at all the race gear and apparel I will do my best to avoid purchasing. I will also try to avoid spending too much time there walking around – save my energy and my feet for the morning. Then it’s on to dinner with my running club. It’s early. Thankfully we all understand. I might take a warm bath when I get back to the hotel and I will definitely lay down early, even if I’m not able to sleep. Rest in any form is important.

On race day morning, I will not only remind myself to trust my training, but to trust my preparations. Just like any big plans, the more time and effort we put into the preparations, the better off we’ll be and the less anxiety we’ll have. We’ll be able to focus on the task at hand — which for me on Sunday is running 9 minute miles. 26.2 of them.

This week in Marathon trainingScreen Shot 2018-04-23 at 10.54.07 AM


7 thoughts on “How to stay on course for the Marathon

  • April 25, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Wow, you’ve thought of everything! I feel so unprepared! But you’ve given me a template, so thank you. You’re gonna kill it!

    • April 25, 2018 at 9:21 am

      Thanks Hillary! You too! I’m a little OCD when it comes to race prep – plus this will be my 277th race. Lot’s of trial and error, things forgotten and lessons learned the hard way.

  • May 3, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Your OCD for race prep is good. Love the way you set up your running gear.

    • May 4, 2018 at 8:39 am

      thanks Stan! if you do a search for #flatrunner on instagram, you’ll see I’m not the only one

      • May 4, 2018 at 8:44 am

        My running buddy Randy was very OCD
        On road trips he would lay everything out the night before. That picture so reminded me of those days
        I’m not as bad but a close second to it.

      • May 4, 2018 at 8:51 am

        When my boyfriend and I travel to destination races together, we layout our flat runners side-by-side lol

      • May 4, 2018 at 8:52 am

        I’m way too tired getting up early for races and will definitely forget something

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