Practice Makes Perfect

Posted: March 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

The upcoming 20 miler is the perfect venue for practicing what you hope to implement on Marathon Day.  While the weather is a major variable on Patriot’s Day, you should wear what you expect to wear in the marathon.  The odds are in the favor of cooler temperatures so a long-sleeve top under your singlet is ideal.  I prefer to wear tights in temperatures lower than 50 degrees but I am in the minority.  Wearing a hat and gloves, particularly at the beginning of the 20 miler or marathon,  is highly recommended.  Many runners shed these as their core temperature rises and their muscles become  fully oxygenated.  I recommend holding onto these items as you may want to wear them again as your resources are depleted in the closing miles, particularly if there also happens to be a headwind.

I will wear the shoes in the 20 miler that I plan to wear in the marathon.  I like to have a few short runs on a new pair of shoes to ensure there aren’t any problems before the 20 miler.  I also prefer to have as few miles as possible on my marathon shoes so I don’t run in them again until April 18th.  Body Glide and sun screen are two often overlooked items.  I place Body Glide on my feet and all areas where friction occurs (i.e., calves, upper thighs, underarms, etc).  Women should also place this until their jog bras to reduce friction.  I’ve witnessed countless runners with sunburn, particularly on the back of their knees, during the marathon.  You can still get sunburn on a cloudy Spring day in New England.  Sunglasses will also keep your face relaxed.  Tensing your facial muscles is a drain on your energy.

Having a breakfast similar to what you plan to have the morning of the marathon is a good idea.  I will have a bowl of oatmeal with skim milk, a banana and toasted bagel with peanut butter.  I typically will have this two hours before the start of all my long runs.  I also carry red licorice that I’ve coated in salt along with Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes in a small pouch around my waist.  This will sustain me throughout the marathon along with the fluid I take along the course.  I typically ask (ahem…beg) a few of my closest friends and family to hold onto water bottles along the course that contain my favorite drinks (coconut water, FRS Mango, and Pedialyte are among my top choices).  Coordinating this effort is risky business simply due to all the logistical challenges so I always plan to NOT see them so I’m not disappointed and I don’t place myself at risk of dehydration.

The greatest challenge of the 20 miler is learning to properly pace yourself.  You’re still going to have an additional 5 miles to make it to the finish line in Boston.  Whatever excitement you experience at the starting line in Hopkinton this Saturday will need to be multiplied by 100 on Marathon Day.  Keeping this excitement in check on April 18th is difficult, particularly when you’ve waited for the start for so long, you’re full of energy and anticipation and the first 4 miles are significantly downhill. 

It’s imperative that you realize your energy level will never be higher than it is at the starting line.  How you manage the expenditure of energy from Hopkinton to Boston will determine how positive your marathon experience will be. 

Your focus should be to replicate your entire plan on Marathon Day during this Saturday’s 20 miler.  You may need to make some minor tweaks and adjustments but you should have your marathon strategy dialed in after the 20 miler.    Practicing pacing, fueling and hydration will make for a perfect marathon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s