5 things to do in the last 2 weeks to get to the marathon starting line

The New Jersey Marathon which I have been training for all of 2018 so far, is only 12 days away. My long, long training runs are behind me and this week I begin to taper.  Now it’s all about getting to the starting line.

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Starting Line of the Harriers 4×2 Relay last weekend. www.HarriersRelay.com

The priority for the last two weeks is getting lots of rest, eating the right foods, being fully hydrated, and not getting injured. Those are the only things I can control at this point. But those are huge and can make or break the marathon.

Get lots of rest

The challenge during the “taper” when your weekly mileage takes a nose dive, is not filling the time and using that energy for other activities – like undertaking a major home improvement project or staying out late. I’m planning to be very disciplined over the next 2 weeks and go to bed early.  I will also continue my meditation sessions and may also work in a massage, or at the very least spend time relaxing on the couch catching up on Netflix.

Eat right

I have been running and racing for 22 years, so I’ve had a lot of time to experiment with food choices. The one thing I’ve learned is that we are all unique in what foods work for us and what don’t. Specific food choices need to be figured out during training with some trial and error. By 2 weeks out, we should know what particular foods will work for us, so the question becomes, what to eat when? We’ve all heard about “carbo-loading” but it isn’t necessary to eat additional carbohydrates for weeks leading up to the big race, but rather about 3-5 days (Read “The Right Way to Carbo-load Before a Race,” Runner’s World). Right now, protein is important to repair the muscles I’ve worked so hard during training. I found this Marathon Meal Plan (that also provides vegetarian and vegan options) from performance nutritionist James Collins is worth checking out.

Hydrate

This seems like a no brainer, but sometimes we forget. I fill a 20oz water bottle at bed time. What ever I don’t drink then or during the night, I finish in the morning. It’s good hydrate first thing in the morning, since going without for about 8 hours can dehydrate us. I refill the bottle a couple times during the day and make sure I finish it with lunch and again with dinner.

Don’t get injured!

Tapering down from the peak mileage of training allows the body to recover fully, rest (as I noted above), and also lowers the risk of injury in the last week. But just as you don’t want to spend the energy taking on other projects, you also want to be cautious in how you are spending your time. As my coach wrote in his blog last week, “Please don’t do anything stupid.  No moving furniture (and throw out your back).  No riding motorcycles (and get into accidents).” – true stories apparently.

Let go of what you can’t control

Getting to the starting line of a marathon takes a lot of work. Staying disciplined and focused about those things we can control will make a huge difference on race day. What won’t help is obsessing about the weather. As those who rain Boston yesterday observed, there is simply nothing we can do about the weather. Resist the urge to check the long-term forecast. It’s rarely that accurate and could add to your anxiety. Just check the weather as you’re getting ready to make the decisions about what you’re going to wear. Don’t try any thing new that you didn’t already test out during training (apparel and nutrition).

So that’s it. In the days leading up to the race, you just want to properly prepare for whatever might come along. We’ll talk more about all the last minute preparations next week.

This week in Marathon TrainingScreen Shot 2018-04-16 at 1.44.01 PM

 

A spectator’s guide to the Chicago Marathon (bookmark for next year)

A spectator’s guide to the Chicago Marathon (bookmark for next year)

The Chicago Marathon is one of the most spectator-friendly courses I know. The way in which it weaves back and forth through downtown allows spectators several opportunities to see runners at multiple spots on the course without going too far out of their way.

A spectator can essentially view the course at mile 1, 5k, and Half without venturing more than a few blocks. Being a little more ambitious and creative, a stop at a critical point in Chinatown (mile 21) can be added and you can make sure you’re there to celebrate as your runner makes that last turn into Grant Park for the Finish.

I ran Chicago as my fifth marathon in 2015. I have also run New York City, New Jersey (Long Branch), and Bucks County (Pennsylvania), as well as 40 Half Marathons in three countries and eight States. Chicago stands out because it was the only one where “my fans” (people from New Jersey, no less) where out there cheering in several places. And if you’ve ever run a marathon, you know how important that is.

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Why we should believe in miracles

Why we should believe in miracles

This weekend’s race is the Shelter Island 10k, Shelter Island, New York. You can read about it here. This will be my 14th time doing this race (15 if you count last year, when I ran the course the day before). This is by far my favorite race. But it is also emotional because for so many years my parents were there at the Finish Line cheering.

Life is short. We know this. And yet we are reminded again and again. We always think there will be one more time. Another chance. We take for granted the small moments only realizing long after they’ve passed that they were actually really big moments. Moments that we play over and over in our heads like a scene from a really good movie that has completely captivated us.

June is a difficult month. There’s the wedding anniversary that is now just a reminder of how we lost our best selves. There is this weekend when Father’s Day, my late father’s birthday and the anniversary of my mother’s death collide. There is the end of the school year; which has, in my house, become traditionally a struggle in squeaking out passing grades (or not) and trying to move on.

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5 Ways to Run Memorial Day Weekend

5 Ways to Run Memorial Day Weekend

My Memorial Day tradition for the past 20 years, has been the Fred d’Elia Memorial Day Ridgewood Run. It’s been a local cornerstone road race for over 40 years here in Northern New Jersey. I have been there in some capacity- running the 5k, 10k or 1-mile Family Fun Run when my daughter was small, or serving as a volunteer, every year since 1997. I wrote about that event on International Running Day last year.

Last July, I wrote about running races for every holiday. The Memorial Day weekend suggestions included, in addition to that local race, Chicago’s Soldier Field 10 Mile, one of my “bucket list” races. This year I decided to do away with tradition and head out to Chicago for the holiday weekend to check another “must-do” destination race off my list.

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The Best Way to Tour Brooklyn

The Best Way to Tour Brooklyn

My father was from the Bronx. My mother grew up in Queens. The Bronx, home to the New York Yankees, was certainly the “cooler” borough of the two. As a kid, I’m not sure I knew anyone from Brooklyn. Historically, the Irish settled in the Bronx and Queens. Can’t recall ever going to Brooklyn. Although, my father told stories about horrendous subway rides back from a day at Coney Island – after sustaining blistering sunburns on his fair Irish skin – back before the train cars were air-conditioned. He always said he’d take me to Coney Island to ride the Cyclone. He never did.

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