Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What to Know Before You Go...Run a Marathon

That's a happy Portland Marathon runner.
You've put in the training miles--or got as close as you could to logging them all. You've sacrificed sleep (not too much), a social life and some favorite eats. You've listened to all the advice, read all the articles, sat through all the pre-race talks. You've heard, read, said and thought so much about the marathon you're about to run that you may as well have crossed the finish line already. Not so fast.

It's race week. And instead of knowing all those words of advice you stored in your head over the course of training, you're forgetting them, confusing them or questioning their accuracy. Did I run enough miles? Will my shoes be OK? Did I pick a good race-day outfit? Am I eating the right foods?

Enough to make your head spin? Lucky for us, Scott Lewandowski, a regional director at Fitness Formula Clubs who's run several marathons, shared with us his preparation tips for the daunting 26.2.

Review the course. Know the turns, the hills (or lack of should you be running Chicago), the bridges you'll run over. Visualize yourself successfully completing each mile.

Know where--and how--to spot your support crew. Where are they going to be stationed? What will they be wearing? Which side of the street will they stand on? To pick them out of a crowd, suggest that they hold a Mylar balloon for you to recognize above the crowds. Spongebob anyone?
 • Relax and rest up. Don’t spend a lot of time on your feet leading up to the race--even if that means a short trip through the expo. Take it easy in the final week (yes, taper!). Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep, especially two nights before the race because race-day jitters are going to make it tough to get a good night's sleep on Saturday (you don't want to know how awful my sleep was the night before Ironman).
 • Watch your diet. Eat a balanced diet focusing on complex carbohydrates (fruits, veggies and whole grains), protein and fat. Four days before the race, increase your carbohydrate intake to 65-70 percent, and cut back slightly on protein and fat. Avoid introducing your body to new foods during the last week.
Hydrate. Have you seen those 100-ounce tweets that challenge you to drink 100 ounces of water per day? Now's the week to hit that goal and drink water all day long. Carry a water bottle with you, sip it frequently, and look for your urine to run pale yellow or clear instead of dark.
Pack your bags. Make a list of all of your essentials and gather them now not hours before you go to bed (I made that mistake last year, not good). The goal is to avoid as much stress as we approach the marathon. Gather your race clothes, supplements, shoes, packet when you pick it up, sunglasses, hat, and other essentials, and place them in a central location inside your home by Friday. Make sure your packet has all the items it is supposed to have inside--like your bib and timing chip--before leaving the expo.
 • Reflect on the journey. You've come a long way from February when you signed up for this endurance challenge. Focus on the positive aspects of your training, your strength and stamina, endurance, and accomplishments. Visualize yourself finishing strong. This will help ease your nerves and keep you relaxed before the clock starts. Don’t let anything get in the way of a positive mental and physical experience.  

And before you know it you'll be at the finish line and will #ownchicago. Maybe you'll even be ready to sign up again next year? OK, maybe that's pushing it.

Photo grabbed from lululemon athletica at flickr.

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