Energy Management

Posted: April 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Realizing that you won’t have any more energy than you do at the start of the marathon will help you to manage it.  I’ve always been surprised by the number of runners I witness wasting energy before the marathon even starts.  Ensuring that you stay warm during the wait in Athlete’s Village is critical.  If you’re shivering you’re wasting energy.

I enter the starting corral in a complete state of calmness, knowing my effort to conserve fuel and energy will pay huge dividends later in the day.  Inevitably I will observe runners jumping up and down, whooping and hollering in the starting corral.  They haven’t mastered the art of mental and physical calmess…they simply need to expel pent-up energy and pre-race excitement.  When I pass them later I’m always temped to comment about how different they appear than just an hour ago.  I’ve learned valuable lessons from observing others.  These same individuals race through the woods in an effort to pass thousands of runners slowed by the congestion at the start.

You may be forced to endure the process of running, stopping and running in the beginning.  Don’t let this disrupt your mental focus.  Remaining in your position and avoiding darting around others to find an open space  helps to avoid wasting energy.  It’s similar to a driver racing around you on the highway to gain just one spot ahead of you, it’s a complete waste of energy.

My highest priority is to run easy until my muscles are fully oxygenated and my form is rhythmic.  I focus on running relaxed and light on my feet.  If your foot strikes are loud or you can hear yourself breathe, you’re wasting energy.  Take time for a brief walk break at the water stops to refuel.  This will provide a much-needed and well-deserved mental and physical break.  I always stay to the middle of the road until I’m at the last table of a water stop.  It’s far less congested and less risky.  I don’t want to slip on cups or water or risk running into someone else.  You’ll notice the first few tables of every water stop are complete chaos.  Runners have been anticipating their arrival for quite some time and simply have no patience for doing what’s going to benefit them the most.  Ingesting the fuel that you tested in training at regular intervals also helps to maintain your fuel levels. 

Managing each water stop properly will build your confidence and help to conserve your fuel.  You should be cautious about taking things from spectators.  It’s hard to resist taking a banana or orange slice from a small child but I don’t recommend it.  The bacteria from their hands can upset your stomach.  I’ve been so low on fuel in some marathons that I would have taken anything from anyone…I clearly didn’t manage my fuel very well.

Running a consistent pace is another effective method of managing your energy.  It’s unrealistic and not advisable to maintain your pace on the hills.  It’s better to ease back and conserve your energy, particularly on the hills beginning at Mile 16 to the top of Heartbreak Hill at Boston College (Mile 21).  You are far more efficient if you’re maintaining a reasonable and comfortable pace.  Otherwise, it’s similar to driving a car fast up a hill, it’s inefficient and a complete waste of fuel.

Managing your energy begins from the moment you wake up on marathon day!  How successful you are in properly fueling that morning and how conservative you are in expending that fuel determines how successful you will be in the marathon. 

Dress in warm, comfortable clothes for the wait prior to the marathon, remain in a complete state of calmness, manage your energy effectively throughout the marathon and your spirit and finisher’s picture will reflect it!

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