When you sign up for a marathon, your first reaction is probably excitement, fear and shock all in one go. Oh, and then you will suddenly question your mental health. A whole marathon???
Once you start your training, you’ll get into the groove of things, you’ll be checking out what food is best and you’ll be doing all the stabilty and core work that will put all the other amateurs to shame. You, friend, are a runner, a runner in TRAINING for one of the most awesome distances, a race that not everyone can or is willing to do.
You’ve tested your food, your gels, your drinks, etc. You are now tapering. You’ve got a week or two weeks to go. The nerves are kicking in hard. Here’s how to prepare for the big day:
1) Carb-loading. Instead of eating all of the things, try a carb-loader drink. We used Etixx Carbo GY (not a sponsor, this is just what we used). The hubs used it a bit more than I did; I literally used it the week before for a few days and not the entire recommended amount. I did however use it the morning of the marathon so I did not have to eat a huge breakfast.
2) Eat dinner the night before EARLY. I think I mentioned this before. Eat breakfast the morning of AT LEAST 3 HOURS prior to the race. Take stuff with you for a bit more energy before you start. I took one SIS Gel right before I started. (again, not a sponsor, just what gel I personally prefer). I also had to small raisin buns with honey in my pack. I even ate one during one loo stop (for Kim, I didn’t eat it in the porta-potty! blech!).
3) Write a list of what you need for the race and then set it ALL out the night before. Everything. Safety pins, vaseline, underwear, bra, watch, sunglasses, hat, etc. Everything you could possibly need and want to have should be READY the night before. Do not mess about with this ladies and gents – you don’t want to forget anything!!
4) Check the weather starting a week before. Now check it like a crazy person again 300 times so you can prepare your stuff the night before for exactly what you might need for the race.
5) Get to the race EARLY. You’ll want to go to the loo (several times if necessary) and in fact even if you don’t have to go, stand in the loo queues as early as possible because you really don’t want to have to stop at the loos along the way. Not that it’s a bad thing (I stopped twice), but it will slow you down a tiny bit. Check in your bag and have warm top handy that you don’t mind getting rid of before the race. I had a foldable jacket actually that I stuck in my hydration pack.
6) Your Check In bag – make a list of what you want to check in as well and pack THAT back the night before. Things you’ll want: compression socks, different pair of shoes (some suggest flip flops but that’s not my style), a dry top, jogging/sport pants, a jacket, a small towel, deodorant, blister plasters (compeed) something to fix up your hair a bit, muscle cream, aspirin in case you have a headache.
7) VASELINE – works a charm if you rub it on and in between the toes. You can also use body glide on chafing areas. My underarm chafed for some reason (well, I do have bingo arms) for the first time so now I know to put vaseline there for the next race.
OK. So now DURING the race:
1) Everyone will tell you this and they are right – DON’T start out too fast! Really. You will need your energy for later! Start off at a normal pace and take it all in. YOU ARE RUNNING A MARATHON. If that doesn’t make you smile I don’t know what will.
2) Use your gels! Or whatever you trained with. Take them as specific times (I did one every 45 min, this is how I trained. However, you can take one every 20 minutes, though more than 3 per hour is not recommended. Tinker during your training to determine your gel times) and take them even if you think you don’t need it. YOU WILL NEED IT. TAKE ALL THE GELS.
3) even if you have a hydration pack – stop very briefly at the water stations for additional water, orange slices, bananas, raisins, wine, cheese. Oh wait. Only if you are running Medoc :) Seriously. Stop, take something, smile and move on. Gels and Hydration are going to save you from the Wall.
4) if you have to go to the loo, stop and go to the loo. don’t worry about your time.
5) Take it all in, enjoy the music and the crowds along the way and SMILE. There are cameras and a very expensive photo package waiting for you after the race.
6) The last 10 or so kilometers will most likely seem really odd. Just keep going. One foot in front of the other. Walk if you have to. Again, don’t worry about time. This is your PR for the marathon. The point is to cross that line with all that hard work and effort in those legs.