Training Tips

Here are some training tips, originally written with the beginning marathoner in mind, but actually, they’re good reminders for the experienced runner as well. 

 

 

Training Schedules:  How to make the most of your time

 

Planning your training in a methodical progression towards a pre-determined goal is called “periodization.”  It applies to all events in Track & Field, in Cross-Country, and it applies to you in your road-racing goals too.  For example, your plan for increasing your mileage should be to do so in small increments.  I believe in a stair-step progression for the “long run”:  going up 2 miles, then back down by at least 2 miles on alternating weeks.  Obviously, you’ll need more information about the progression of those long runs and also for your speed work, just as you’ll need details on the types of speed work to choose from.

One reminder to all athletes:  you need to take time to recover in order to benefit from the hard workouts.  It’s a commonly known but usually ignored fact that you “build” the most during time of recovery.  If you try to progress your training too quickly, it backfires on you every time.  Looking at the overall picture, training schedules can be broken down into periods or cycles in terms of year, months and weeks.  So you not only need rest days during the week, you need to factor rest weeks into the bigger picture.

If you don’t train smart, you will be at risk for fatigue and injury.  Pay attention if your body is trying to tell you to rest or heal, and seek aid where needed.   Get evaluated for physical therapy if you’re injured.  Follow doctor’s orders.  If you can’t run, find a suitable cross-training workout.  If I could offer only one word as the key to success with your training, it would be “consistency.”  Be consistent in your training.

When it comes to preparing for a marathon, my best advice is always to be as prepared as possible, because more than any other race, it’s the one where you can do all your homework and still not pass the test due to reasons beyond your control.

 

The Best Ways to Cross Train

 

In the realm of physical training, there are several universal principles of training.  One important principle is “Specificity of Training.”  It states:  “Our bodies adapt to exercise or physical stress in direct response to the nature of the demands imposed.”  In other words, “A certain amount of training must mimic the specific nature of the competitive event.”  Exercise physiologist, Jack Daniels, simplifies it:  “To become really accomplished at something, you must practice doing that thing.”  Common sense.

In the  “Bay Area Running News,” I found some interesting information on cross-training by runner and podiatrist, Dr. Steve Palladino.  He reminds us that the most critical body system for developing running quality is the neuromuscular system; and that the closer the neuromuscular patterning in our training, the better.  In other words, specificity!

The list of cross-training activities include (in order of most useful):

  1. Treadmill running
  2. Pool running
  3. Cross-country skiing / Nordic Track
  4. Cycling / Spin classes
  5. Elliptical Trainer
  6. Fitness walking / Hiking
  7. Skating
  8. Snow-shoeing
  9. Stairmaster

Running author, Owen Anderson, publishes a similar list, but adds soccer and racquet sports as well as resistance training or circuit training in the weight room.

Most experts agree that the greatest value in cross-training is achieved when you substitute (rather than add) a workout for injury, illness, or lack of accessibility to running; give a good hard effort; do so in terms of minutes rather than hours; rest when fatigued; and avoid aggravating any injuries.

 

Hill Running:  Form is Everything

 

Running up or down a hill is a matter of form.  In running, as in most sports, form is everything.  When running uphill, increase your forward lean slightly, shorten your stride and lift your knees a bit higher.

Your arms, while normally bent at a 90-degree angle with your hands carried low, should come in, close to the body, at a tighter angle, pumping your hands in rhythm with your knees.  Try your best to maintain pace going uphill without increasing it. Forget trying to pass people uphill.   In most cases, it’s wasted energy – they will just pass you by on the downhill.  If you’re just maintaining your pace and that puts you ahead of other runners, fine, just don’t intentionally increase your pace going up. At the top of the hill, don’t loose that momentum.  Run over the top and prepare to change your form on the downhill.

 Running downhill, open up your stride wider, lower your arms – a little away from the body – in order to maintain balance; and do not lean back. Run perpendicular to the ground and push off your toes as if you were running on flat ground.  You won’t fall forward because your next stride will save you.  Do not “put on the brakes” by leaning back and running heel-to-toe.   This will not only slow you down, it will put undue stress on your knees and your quadriceps.  It’s not a bad idea to practice hill running in workout so you know what to do in a race; and it’s an excellent strengthening workout.

 

Speed Work

 

Consider your own training plan in three main phases, like building a pyramid:  the base (building up your mileage), strength-training phase (hill running), and speed-work, which culminate with a tapering phase and peaking for your goal race.

You can ease into speed-work with some simple “fartlek” runs (a Swedish term for “speed play”).  On an otherwise steadily paced run, you’ll pick it up for any distance you chose, usually between 100-400 yards, and then slow down until you’re recovered enough to go again.  This is good for an hour-or-so-run.  “Intervals” and “repetitions” consist of running pre-selected distances on the track with pre-determined amounts of rest in between.  “Variable pace” training would be used at a similar workout utilizing, for example, your 5K and 10K race pace as a target pace for your “repetitions.”  You might do a set of quarter-miles (400’s), half-miles (800’s), or single miles (4 laps) on the track using a combination of your “variable pace” times.  “Steady state” runs could be done on the road for, say, running your target race pace at a shorter distance than the actual race (10-milers are a popular distance, done at marathon pace).  For all of these, a good warm-up and cool-down are important.

Your objective is to learn a sense of pace, develop good running form and identify a relaxing breathing pattern – all while conditioning your body for the long race ahead of you. As you approach your target race, consider building in stepping-stones to help you attain your goal.  Intermediate races can be a reality check for you.

 

Pace Yourself

 

What’s your marathon goal?  Three hours?  Faster? Four hours? Five hours? More? Perhaps you don’t even care how fast you finish.  Perhaps your goal is simply to finish. Believe me, just finishing a marathon is a victory!  No matter your goal, it’s good to have a plan.  You will feel better – and run better – having a race plan to pace yourself by.  I like to break all my races into four parts, so a marathon becomes four 10Ks, and I have an idea about how fast I want each to be.  Generally, your race pace is spoken of in terms of minutes per mile.  You should familiarize yourself with a realistic goal pace. There are plenty of handy pace calculators on line to help you with the math. For example, if you know your pace at one particular distance from race results, you can use that figure to project what your time is likely to be at a different distance.  If you know what time you want to finish your marathon in, you can calculate your minute-per-mile pace.  And you can do your calculations in kilometers or miles.

Check out Running Times “race time equivalent calculator” to convert a given time and distance to a race of another distance.   Go to Running Times Pace Charts to calculate your pace in minutes per mile.

At MarathonGuide.com, you can find pace charts and even print out a wearable “bracelet” with your splits printed on it to help you hit your target.

You can use variable pace training and steady-state runs as types of speed workouts to not only help familiarize you with a comfortable race pace, but to better prepare you to handle a faster pace. The key is to set tangible goals for yourself, to prepare yourself in workouts, and use intermittent races during your training to check your progress.

 

Pool Running

 

Pool running may be the ideal conditioning medium.  Studies have shown that water running is the most closely linked exercise to land running for maintaining – and even increasing – aerobic conditioning.  It is the perfect cross-training tool for athletes who need to remove stress from their joints.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that exercising in the water isn’t aerobically efficient because you can’t raise your heart rate as high as with land exercise. The best measure isn’t necessarily pulse rate anyway; “cardiac output,” or the amount of blood pumped per unit of time is a better indicator.  Clinical studies show that the athlete submerged in neck-deep water has a 32% increase in cardiac output over that at rest.  Thus, studies claim, it is a recommended form of exercise even for patients with diseased hearts.

Personally, I have been convinced of the value of water workouts since I began substituting water workouts for track workouts after my first stress fracture two decades ago.  My own unscientific study produced results that won me over when I was able to replicate race times before and after long periods of workouts relegated exclusively to the pool.  Now, I read that research backs up the fact that “water running equals land running in its effect maintaining VO2 max when training intensities are matched.”  I recreated workouts by simply substituting the running distances with times, in minutes and seconds, factoring in perceived effort, and proceeding to “run” my regular workouts, only suspended in the deep end of a pool.

At that time, running in the pool was viewed as intrusive to lap swimmers.  Now, it’s common practice, and you will probably find water exercise classes at your local pool.  Check out YMCAs, YWCAs, the Westwood Recreation Center and various private clubs for group or private classes.  Also be sure to ask what pool time is available to you for water jogging, and ask whether or not floatation belts are available to you.

Beyond being gentle on your joints, pool running has an added bonus:  there is extensive research detailing the benefits of water exercise on all body systems.

 

More on Pool-Running:  The Specifics

 

You have decided the benefits of water exercise are just what the doctor ordered.  Now what do you do?  Find a convenient pool and check to see if you need to bring your own floatation belt (e.g. “Aqua-Jogger”) so you can run without touching bottom, thus getting a non-impact workout.  Cinch your belt tight and jog out to the deep end.

Of the three types of jogging strides, the basic jogging stride is to run as you would on land, with your knees pumping up and down, high enough so that your thigh is parallel with the floor on the up-swing.  On the down-swing, straighten the leg and “push off,” yet not touching.  With elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, push the water back and forth.

For the hill- or stair-climbing stride, reach up and out with your knee, then pull your leg down in a claw-like or hoofing motion.  Be careful of this one if you’re nursing a knee quadriceps or hamstrings) injury.

Lastly, the cross-country skiing stride is similar to what’s used on a Nordic-Track machine.  Legs are straight, gliding forward and back alternately, as are your arms.  Turn your palms down, like paddles, for extra resistance.

A good routine would mix these strides, and set repetitions of time, at different levels of effort.  For example, a 10-minute easy warm-up jog is followed by 10 times 1-minute runs at hard effort, with 30-60 seconds of easy jog in-between each.  Change your stride during the minute-runs.  Increase your “distance” (i.e. 2-minute, 3-minute, etc.) and/or your number of repetitions as your conditioning improves.  Having variety in your workout keeps you honest in your effort and helps the time pass quickly.  Personally, while I can run on land all day with no artificial distractions, I really enjoy my water-resistant headphones to wile the time away in the pool.  (Get the self-contained headphones with no wires or attachments to get soaked.)

Always follow with a cool down jog of at least 5 minutes and stretching, chest-deep, in the shallow end.  You are going to be so flexible stretching in the water!

 

Breathing

 

“What about breathing?  Do I have to breathe in my nose and out my mouth?  I’m gasping for air!”  This question has been put to me a number of times.  No, you don’t have to follow that breathing pattern.  You need to get all the air you can, any way you can get it.  Most people are greatly relieved to hear this.

However, speaking of breathing, finding a pattern to your breathing can help you relax and run more efficiently, especially in the toughest parts of your race.  In training, practice identifying a breathing pattern that is comfortable for you.  It might be two-strides-breath-in, two-strides-breath-out.  It might be more or less.  The faster you run, the more often you take a breath.  Strange as it may sound, too often, runners forget to breathe out and end up hyperventilating.  You can hear this in their breathing as they’re sucking in air and gasping and choking.

I once jumped into a marathon to accompany someone I trained when she fell into this same distress.  I coached (and coaxed) her into a breathing pattern by audibly breathing and counting with her until her breathing relaxed and the gasping stopped, and she was able to resume her steady pace.  When you have to cover a long distance like a marathon, it’s important to conserve energy.  Breathing in a regular pattern can help.  It’s a good thing to focus on.

 

Side-Stitches:  The Million Dollar Question

 

This is such a common problem amongst runners; it can ruin a person’s race; and it’s not easily resolved.  Here are some ideas.

Janet Heinonen writes in her Sports Illustrated book, “Running for Women,” that “the ‘stitch,’ a sharp pain in your lower rib cage, is frequently accompanied by a satellite pain in the shoulder, the result of a cramp or spasm of the diaphragm muscle.”  I would add, that especially for the beginning runner, this might result in “dry heaves” at the conclusion of your run if you’ve been running at a faster pace than you’re prepared for, because your diaphragm muscle simply isn’t conditioned for the heavy breathing.  By virtue of running in training, this muscle can be developed.

Additionally, you can strengthen the diaphragm through sit-ups or crunches.  Better than that is to learn to breathe correctly.  Breathe deeply, so that when you inhale, your stomach goes out instead of your chest.  According to Heinonen, the late Dr. George Sheehan, medical expert, author and runners’ guru, suggests correcting your breathing and strengthening your diaphragm “by lying on the floor with a weight of books on your stomach.  As you breathe in, the books should rise.  Make it a habit to breathe against a slight resistance.”
Other causes of pain in the abdominal area may be diet-related or problems in the intestinal tract.  If you get such a pain while running, try slowing down to take a correctly executed deep breath, all the way to your stomach, then blow it out forcefully. Sometimes that will relieve an air pocket that you may have developed.  Also, you may try grabbing the sore spot with your fingers, bending forward, and massaging it out.  Do remember to  practice running and breathing correctly.

 

The P.R.I.C.E. is Right:  The importance of stretching

 

This is such a common problem amongst runners; it can ruin a person’s race; and it’s not easily resolved.  Here are some ideas.

Janet Heinonen writes in her Sports Illustrated book, “Running for Women,” that “the ‘stitch,’ a sharp pain in your lower rib cage, is frequently accompanied by a satellite pain in the shoulder, the result of a cramp or spasm of the diaphragm muscle.”  I would add, that especially for the beginning runner, this might result in “dry heaves” at the conclusion of your run if you’ve been running at a faster pace than you’re prepared for, because your diaphragm muscle simply isn’t conditioned for the heavy breathing.  By virtue of running in training, this muscle can be developed.

Additionally, you can strengthen the diaphragm through sit-ups or crunches.  Better than that is to learn to breathe correctly.  Breathe deeply, so that when you inhale, your stomach goes out instead of your chest.  According to Heinonen, the late Dr. George Sheehan, medical expert, author and runners’ guru, suggests correcting your breathing and strengthening your diaphragm “by lying on the floor with a weight of books on your stomach.  As you breathe in, the books should rise.  Make it a habit to breathe against a slight resistance.”

Other causes of pain in the abdominal area may be diet-related or problems in the intestinal tract.  If you get such a pain while running, try slowing down to take a correctly executed deep breath, all the way to your stomach, then blow it out forcefully. Sometimes that will relieve an air pocket that you may have developed.  Also, you may try grabbing the sore spot with your fingers, bending forward, and massaging it out.  Do remember to  practice running and breathing correctly.

 

Put Your Best Foot Forward

 

Runners and walkers, you need to assess your running gear, particularly your shoes.  The average marathoner strikes the ground 40,000 times over the course of 26.2 miles.  In preparation, as the mileage increases, the marathoner has to be concerned with shock absorption. Consider the fragility of the foot with its 19 muscles, 26 bones, 33 joints and 107 ligaments. Your running shoes are your most important piece of equipment.  Choose carefully.  The individual athlete needs to look at his/her foot-plant to determine the style of shoe that best suits his/her needs.  Things runners and walkers need to look for:  Do you tend to pronate (roll in) or supinate (land on the outside of the foot) in your footsteps?  Are you landing hard on your heels?  Do you land more on your toes?  Do you have a high arch?  A wide forefoot?  A narrow heel?  Another area to investigate, especially if injuries persist, is to look for potential imbalances (i.e. leg-length discrepancies, fallen arches) in body structure.  For this, the aid of a doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor will be necessary.

The next step would be to seek out a knowledgeable shoe salesperson who can match a shoe to your needs rather than someone who is anxious to clear the stock on their shelves.  We’re lucky in the greater LA area to have several stores whose salespersons are accommodating.  Be prepared to answer questions about how many miles per week you put in, what speed at which you train, what surfaces you run on, what race distances you’re targeting. Your salesperson should be able to tell you a great deal about the make-up of the shoe.  There are straight-lasted shoes and curved-(“banana” or hook) lasted shoes; they come  board-lasted, slip- lasted or in a combination of both; they’re built for stability (pronators take heed), cushioning (good for forefoot runners) and/or motion control (note: heel strikers).  The salesperson should be able to (verbally) dissect the shoe for you into parts including the outer sole (durability), the midsole (cushioning) and the upper shoe (comfort, convenience and aesthetics).  It’s your choice.  Make it a wise and healthy choice and your feet will serve you well.

 

Eat and Run:  Nutrition

 

Regarding the ever-popular subject of diet and running, there are those who want to lose weight and those who worry about weight loss.  One thing to remember:  crash or fad diets are never a good idea.  They set you up for failure.  What usually works is having an “everything in moderation” philosophy, along with “making healthy choices.”

It’s a matter of lifestyle.  Eat frequent, smaller meals throughout the day.  Eat complex instead of simple carbohydrates.  Include fiber.   Don’t forget your protein.  Choose low- or non-fat instead of whole fat foods.  Boil or broil instead of frying food.  Don’t eat late at night (when you don’t intend to work out afterwards).

Balancing your weight is simply a matter of “calories in vs. calories out.”  Keep a food journal to help you realize your habits and identify necessary modifications.  Check out the Web site at USDA, MyPlate.gov,  or go to marathonguide.com for running-specific information about nutrition with handy calculators.

Don’t Bonk!  – More on Nutrition

 

I’ve always believed that runners can be divided into two categories:  those who eat to run and those who run to eat.  The punch line is that I’m definitely in the latter group.

The question is how to make the most of your calories.  In other words, how not to “bonk.”  Sports nutritionists agree.  Athletes need to balance their daily diet with mostly carbohydrates (55-65%), balanced with protein (12-15%), and some fats (less than 30%), plus 8-10 glasses of water a day.

Consider the recommendations of nutritionist and triathlete Ellen Coleman, author of Eating for Endurance, for athletes exercising longer than one hour:  1) ingest a high carbohydrate meal 1-4 hours before and drink 16 ounces of water 2 hours before;  2) take in carbohydrate feedings of 30-60 grams per hour, at 15-30 minute intervals, and 5-10 oz. fluid every 15-20 minutes; and 3) replace carbohydrates immediately after exercise to enhance recovery, drinking 24 oz. water for every pound of weight lost during exercise.

What to eat on the run?  Well, it should be something familiar, comfortable, and easy for you to digest.  You can choose from a multitude of sports drinks, energy bars and gels, or simply choose a less expensive alternative food like a banana.  Whatever you choose, make sure it’s familiar.  When choosing an energy bar, opt for the lowest fat content since fat will impede digestion.  Make sure to wash bars down with water.  Try your feedings on the run during your long runs in workout, as a dress rehearsal for the marathon.  By the time race day arrives, you should be prepared.

 

Race Preparation:  Eat, Drink and Be A Finisher

(re: Carbo-loading and hydration)

 

Is carbo-loading really worthwhile?  “Carbohydrate loading” was made popular by a Swedish cycling team in the ‘60s.  The objective is to store energy-providing glycogen, beyond normal levels, to enable the athlete to perform better over a longer period of time.  It only benefits athletes exercising over 90 minutes, so it is applicable to marathons.

Carbo-loading is not an excuse to gorge yourself.  In fact, by simply decreasing your mileage three days before a race while eating normally, you’re in effect “loading.”

Most nutritionists remind us to balance our diets and include all the food groups at every meal.  In general, it’s advisable to maintain  protein intake in proportion to your body weight (.6 – .9 grams per pound of body weight), and to keep your fat intake lower than 25%.   Just increase the carbohydrates in your diet to 70% during the loading phase or 8-10 g/kg of body weight.  The pre-race meal should consist of familiar foods, ones you’ve tried in training.  The amount recommended is obviously more or less in proportion to the number of hours before the race.  In general, try to stick to low fat foods and avoid acidic or high fiber foods that might upset your digestive system.  A lot of people avoid dairy products for the same reason.

And don’t forget about hydration.  It’s the number one cause of poor performance.  Recommended daily consumption is at least 8, or even 10-12 cups a day!   Drink at least 16 ounces of water before the start of your marathon.  On race day, you’re going to need 150-250 ml. of fluids at least every 20 minutes, depending on your body size and the weather, so check out the aid stations.  Have you thought about how you’re going to replace your carbohydrates on the run?  To give you the fuel you need to endure the marathon, consider the gels, bars and replacement drinks.  This is something you’ll definitely want to rehearse in your training.  Nutritionists suggest you need 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour starting at 60-90 minutes into your run, taken with water for to aid digestion.  If  you wait until you are thirsty or hungry, you’ve waited too long.

 

Replenish and Recover

 

The pre-race meal and fuel on the run is all-important to a marathoner, but do you, as a runner, give any thought to the post-race meal? Someone recently said to me, “Who cares? It’s over!” Well, according to a lot of sports nutrition experts, you have a 30-minute window of opportunity following the finish of your run to eat in such a way that the glycogen stores in your muscles will be replenished in a four-hour period (instead of the common 24-hour period), helping to greatly reduce your post-marathon recovery time.

When you’re running, your insulin levels are high and blood flow to the muscles is open, allowing insulin to facilitate glycogen (carbohydrates) into the muscle. When you are done exercising, your insulin levels remain high for 30 minutes — a good opportunity to take in carbohydrates. Since your insulin levels will return to normal levels in 30 minutes, taking in high-sugar foods within that time will keep your insulin levels elevated another four hours. This offers the opportunity for you to fully replenish.

The recommendations for eating over the next four hours are to start on high-sugar drinks such as fruit juice and replacement drinks; and eat fruit or other low-fat, high-sugar foods — considered high glycemic foods or simple carbohydrates. This will further open that “window of opportunity.” Then move towards lower glycemic foods, or complex carbohydrates, such as pastas, breads and cereals.  Nutritionists suggest balancing carbohydrates to proteins in a 4:1 ratio, to assist in rebuilding muscle fiber. Good examples include a peanut butter and jelly or a turkey sandwich.

The trick will be to overcome that feeling of not wanting to eat after the race. A good place to start is with the drinks. Plan ahead, and as with all the tips you’ve received, practicing during (or after, in this case) your long runs will train you to do the right thing on race day.

 

Dress Rehearsal

 

There’s a lot to think about in preparing yourself for competition.  Take your race uniform for example.  Have you decided what you’re going to wear?  In case of extreme weather – hot, cold or wet – be prepared with alternatives.  Usually, a tank top and shorts is sufficient.  Lightweight, breathable mesh materials are a good choice.

If you’re cold to begin with, but feel confident you’ll warm up eventually, add disposable items for warmth, like an old sweatshirt, or long socks covering your hands and arms, or even the ever-popular, fashionable plastic trash bag with holes cut out for your neck and arms.  These items can be tossed aside as you warm up.  Remember that a great amount of body heat is lost through your head, so wear a warm hat if you want added warmth.

If you expect hot weather, however, wear a breathable mesh hat for sun protection.  And don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

Practice one of your long runs in your racing outfit as a dress rehearsal.  If you find that there is chafing anywhere, you will know exactly where you need to apply such lubricants as Vaseline or Body Glide.

 

Happy Feet

 

Be sure to assess your racing shoes with ample time to change before your race goal if necessary.  Your shoes should be the most comfortable ones you use for running — worn in, but not worn out.  If you must change shoes close to race day, try to get the same shoe model and start breaking it in right away.

What about your socks?  Have you considered running in nice, lightweight racing socks?  You want to use breathable materials that wick the moisture away.  This is not the time for otherwise comfortable or ecologically correct cotton. Cotton has a tendency to stretch out and bunch up into wrinkles inside your shoe, which become a major source of blisters.

In my career, I have rarely suffered any serious blisters.  I attribute this to preparing the feet with simple lubrication.  There are a variety of creams and ointments you may use, but I have avoided blisters by lathering my feet before races with Lanacaine.  It’s inexpensive and easily found in any drug store.  Coat your entire foot, being sure to get it between the toes, and apply a little extra to any spot you know that’s bound to get irritated.  Carefully roll on your sock, so as not to wipe off the cream in the process.  If you are already dealing with blisters, you can protect those spots with moleskin or other blister cushioning materials. (Try Dr. Scholl or Band-Aid brands.)  Lastly, don’t forget to check your feet for calluses that may need to be filed down or toenails that need to be clipped.  Your feet take about 40,000 steps in the marathon, so treat them well.

 

Peaking for the Race

 

What about peaking before the race?  Coming up with a generic answer is problematical, given that “peaking” is individualized by your specific training schedule, and it must be planned weeks in advance.  However, I can advise you about “tapering” for your race and hopefully you’ll “peak” a little better.

What to do the week before the marathon?  Assuming your last long run (say 20 miles) was accomplished at least two weeks prior to race day; then the week before should be relatively shorter – somewhere between 10 and 15 miles.

During the final week, rest as much as possible.  In terms of running, take two or three days off entirely and the other runs could include a six-miler and a couple of three-milers, or in terms of time, perhaps 45-min. and 20-in. runs.

A typical final week could look like this:

Sunday: 10-15 miles

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 45 minutes, or 6 miles max

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 20 minutes, or 3 miles max

Friday & Saturday: one rest day and one 20-minute run

Sunday: Marathon

During the final days before race day, pay attention to your diet and get plenty of rest.  Focus on relaxing, avoid stress and get plenty of sleep.  If you don’t sleep well the night before, don’t worry about it.  Just get regular sleep throughout the week.  Drink plenty of fluids, staying hydrated right up to and during the marathon.  Remember to increase your carbohydrates to about 70% of your diet and avoid high-fat or high-fiber foods or other foods that might upset your digestive system.  Most importantly, your pre-race meals should be foods familiar to you and the fuel you take on the run should be foods (bars, gels, replacement drinks) you’ve “rehearsed” with in your training.  Lastly, for the psyche, try to visualize you running strong, crossing the finish line victoriously.  You’ve worked very hard for this event, so tell yourself “you deserve to finish this race.”