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Pre-Marathon tips (1 week out)

September 26, 2010

St. George Marathon is less than a week away for me, so I thought it would be appropriate to do a post on how to get yourself physically and mentally ready for the big day. You trained your butt off for 3-4 months, putting in those long hours for runs, giving up your Friday nights to wake up at 5AM the next day and learned what works for your body. Don’t let it go to waste on race day! 1 week before a marathon is just as important to feel and perform your best come race day. Here are little changes I do that have helped me tackle 26.2 miles…

1. Add more carbs to your diet

I’ve been experimenting lately with a low carb/high-protein diet, but I plan on adding the carbs back in this coming week. Instead of upping your calorie intake, just replace some of the food with another piece of bread or another half serving of brown rice etc. You want your meals to be around 60-70% carbs to top off your glycogen stores. Glycogen is what your body functions on during endurance sports. Once that is depleted, your body goes into your fat stores, it may sound good now, but this is where running becomes extremely hard. Some people “hit the wall”, I have experienced this many times during my earlier races and trust me, it is not a good feeling. If you have enough glycogen with refueling of electrolytes (gels, gu’s, gatorade etc) during the race, you can easily avoid this situation. Don’t go overboard the night before with huge bowls of pasta, you will feel sick the next day. If you have been upping your carb intake the week before, this isn’t necessary. Use your body to it’s full potential, it can do amazing things, but you need to take care of it.

2. Run

Yes, do some running the week before. Maybe not the day before, but get in a couple runs leading up to the race. Keep the pace the same, just do less mileage. I plan on running 8 miles Monday, 7 hilly miles on trails on Wednesday, 5 miles Thursday. These distances work for me because I know they won’t tire out my legs too much for Saturday’s marathon, but they will keep my legs ready and fresh. I think it is important to keep the pace the same pace you’ve been training because if you suddenly drop your pace to 1 minute slower for these short runs, your legs might ‘forget’ your actual pace during the race.

3. Stretch & Ice

Supplement the other days of the week with yoga, nothing too strenuous, and lots of stretching every night. If you have problems with your joints, make sure to elevate and ice them. If you have a foam roller or stick, roll out the muscles that are tight. This will help keep your body loose.

4. Epsom salt baths

I just started doing this a week ago and so far I feel great afterwards. You can get bags of Epsom salt from any convenice store. I dump 2 cups into a warm bathtub and sit in it for 20 minutes. I like to do this after a hard workout, it helps pull out the build-up of the lactic acid in my muscles. Try to do this 2-3 times/week.

5. Get some zzzz’s

Sleep is so important before such a big endurance event. Don’t plan on sleeping the night before a race. It never happens. I never sleep the night before a race, whether its a 5K or a marathon. If your race is on Sunday, make sure you get 8-9 hours of good sleep Friday night. Even better, get at least 7-8 hours of sleep the whole week leading up to the race. Even though you won’t sleep the night before, the lack of sleep won’t affect you that much if you have been getting enough rest the entire week.

6. Go out with friends

Everyone has pre-race jitters. I still do even after 8 marathons. You start to doubt your training and your ability to perform race day. Go out with friends the day before (lay off the alcohol, sorry). Have a fun carbo-loading dinner with friends and talk through your pre-race jitters. Lay out your clothes and all race essentials the night before, you might forget something if you leave it to the morning of the race.

7. Drink water

Make sure you drink enough water everyday. I tend to drink more than usual the week before because I want to be fully hydrated during race day. Sure, there are water stations every mile or so along the course, but if you are hydrated enough, you won’t have to stop at every single water station. Chugging bottles of water the day before doesn’t help. I tried that, and it just ended in me having to use the bathroom several times along the course. I stick to Gatorade or any other type of sports drink the day before. This helps me make sure my electrolytes are topped off.

Lastly, trust in your training. Even if you don’t have the best time or you don’t perform your best, do not beat yourself over it. I learned that as long as I know that I put in the work during my training months, anything can happen race day. Remember, the race is the celebration of all your hard work. Now, go out there, race hard and have some fun!

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 26, 2010 1:29 pm

    Ah! Eight marathons? That’s intense and AWESOME!

    I didn’t know the Epsom bath trick. I’ll have to try that in the pre-race week…you know, if I ever get around to running another marathon. I guess it would work for a half too…

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