Add to Technorati Favorites "Going the Distance!": Race Day Tips for a Marathon and Beyond

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Race Day Tips for a Marathon and Beyond

Recently Runner's World Magazine published an article by Amby Burfoot on how to run a "smart" marathon titled, appropriately enough, "Marathon Smarts". This Sunday I'll be running the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa with my second cousins Dan and Brian and have been thinking about some tips to give them before the marathon. Much of this information is not new and is mentioned in the article but what I have done is to describe my own personal race routine whether I'm running a marathon or a 100 miler.

1. Stick With the Tried and True - I never try out new things on race day. This weekend I'll be wearing my New Balance 902's which have about 60 miles on them along with Injinji socks, my "signature" yellow SLUG jersey, favorite North Face shorts and a Headsweats hat. I've worn all of these items 100's of miles and know that they're comfortable and don't cause any chafing or blisters. For nutrition I'll bring along a few pouches of Hammer Gel and 10 S-Caps both of which I've used many times in training and I'll stick with water only for hydration.

2. Rise and Shine and EAT - The minute I wake up I'll eat a bowl of Nature's Path Optimum Power Cereal and add some raisins of my own; this is a staple for me as I eat it every morning. I usually eat about 2 servings so total with milk and raisins it's around 550 calories; plenty to fuel me for a while. Since we're leaving for Tulsa at 5:00 am (3 hours before the race starts) I'll also eat an Odwalla Bar at about 7:00 am; my favorite kinds are Berries Go Mega and Chocolate Chip Peanut.

3. You May Be Cold Now But You'll Be Hot Before You Know It - Unless the projected high during the race is below 40 degrees I'll wear a short sleeve shirt and shorts. Sometimes I bring along a throwaway sweatshirt to wear up until the last minute and either toss it or hand it off to my crew. If you wear a throwaway and toss it you won't get it back; most races donate the clothes to charity. I pick up my throwaway shirts at Goodwill for $2; can't go wrong there.

4. No Bloody Nips - I use Body Glide under my arms and on my inner thighs and Nip Guards or band aids (much cheaper) to protect my nipples; this is IMPERATIVE if you are a male. Make sure that you've worn your clothing, shoes and socks before in long training runs so you know they don't cause you any problems; goes back to rule #1.

5. Keep Your Number On Your Shorts (and your shorts on your rear end) - I actually just started this at Kettle since I planned on changing shirts at some point and have been doing it for every race since. It gives you flexibility so you can change on the fly and not worry about transferring the number; I'm assuming that most of you plan on keeping your shorts on for the entire race :-)

6. Perk It Up - I don't drink coffee before a race as it messes with my stomach but I do grab a Soy Latte if there is a Starbucks around. Many people, including my friends Gabe and Deanna, won't run a race without there caffeine fix; personally I can take it or leave it.

7. Save Your Energy For The Race - For distances longer than a marathon I don't warm up at all and this weekend at Tulsa I won't either given the leisurely pace we'll be running. If I'm really going after it in a marathon (which I rarely do anymore) then I'll jog just a bit before and do some light stretches after my muscles are warm; not too much but just enough so that when I start at a 7:00 min./mile pace my body is ready for it. For ultra's there is plenty of time to warm up when the race begins.

8. They Have Water At the Aid Stations - I may sip on water before a race but usually am plenty hydrated going into it; I see a lot of people downing liquids until the last minute and I used to be one of them. Perhaps I am just more lax now but I don't really worry about it; if I'm thirsty I drink but I don't go out of my way to hyper-hydrate. It's not like you're heading into the Sahara; in most marathons water is available every 1-2 miles.

9. Steady Does It - I never do this in marathons but am getting better; I always start out too fast and fade at the end. This is the opposite of how it's supposed to be done as it's better to get faster towards the end (negative split) or at least run an even pace throughout (even split). Most elite marathoners run negative splits as Ryan Hall did in his recent victory at the Olympic Trials.

10. Don't Let Mole Hills Become Mountains - Don't wait to get the rock out of your shoe or adjust your shirt if it's rubbing you in a weird way; these things will only get worse. Catch them before they cause any real problems!

11. Something To Drink? Yes, Please! - I drink from the beginning of the race until the end but be careful not to overhydrate; take S-Caps to keep your electrolytes in balance. Hyponatremia is very dangerous (potentially deadly) and can occur if you drink too much without replacing lost salt.

12. Love To Eat - In a marathon I'll stick to Gels only (GU or Hammer Gels) but in longer distances I will eat more "real" food. Whether it's M&M's, Coke or PB&J, if it looks good I'm eat'in it! You must replace the carbs you are burning otherwise you most likely will hit the infamous "Wall" when your body has depleted all of its glycogen stores. The body can only store about 2,000 calories as glycogen and most people burn an average of 100 calories per mile; that's why the Wall suddenly appears around the 20 mile mark when your body runs out of fuel.

So that's my own personal spin on the tips from Runner's World and you can read the article in its entirety by clicking HERE. Please email me or comment if you have any questions or an interesting pre-race ritual you'd like to share with everyone.

I'm off to the Lake Friday and then Tulsa Sunday morning; look for a full race report to be posted late Monday night.

Happy Running,


Unknown said...

Have you tried 'AquaJoe' ? You can eliminate those nasty gels and stick to sports drink. Check it out!

Anonymous said...

Great tips. And I especially liked your last post on FAQs about running a 100 miler.

Since it's just before your marathon, you might find this 25 point checklist on what to bring to a marathon helpful. Granted, a few less than 25 will be applicable unless you are juggling.

Perry, 44

Arland said...

Great tips! Good luck at Tulsa. I'm heading there today myself. It will be my first full so I am excited!

Anonymous said...

You can also try cutting moleskin padding (one side is sticky) into little home-made nip guards. Cheap and works great (will stick many days and through any 100 miler), and not as visibly ugly through the shirt as nip guards or some bandaids. They have moleskin at any pharmacy, etc.

Topher said...

Carey, I just found your blog linking through some of the Trail Nerds, and I really like what I've read so far. This is a great post on marathon tips. I'm planning to run my first fill next year and just ran my first half in October. You're background is similar to mine, and it's very encouraging to see what people have accomplished just by lacing up to lose a few pounds.


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