Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Hey Runner,

It’s REAL close!!!!  I’m proud of you for what you are undertaking.  

With just a few days to go, I want to impress on you the need to take it easy.   That’s just as important as any of your training.  Try to eat well and get plenty of sleep.  You run the marathon on the sleep you get TWO nights before the race, Thursday night, for a Saturday marathon…as it’s quite normal not to sleep well the night before the race. 

Try not to do anything NEW before or during the marathon….NO NEW CLOTHES…no new SHOES.  Use and do only the things that you HAVE DONE BEFORE….and this includes the night before.  If you don’t normally drink beer or wine before a long run…then don’t start the night before.  Same for what you eat the night before….and breakfast the morning of. 

RUN YOUR RACE on race day.  DON’T try to keep up with someone else…it’s EXTREMELY difficult to effectively run a marathon with someone else.  This is YOUR race…not your time to keep up with someone else. 

DON’T do anything stupid, please.  You can gain little or nothing before the race, but you can lose big if you go into the race tired or injured.  EASY on the cross-training.  Your job is to REST….so please do that.  DON’T go barefoot…even in the house this week. 

TRY NOT TO RUN on Thursday or Friday before the Saturday race.   You need TWO days off before the marathon (or half) so get the few miles you need on M, T, Wed or Thursday.   

Some always complain that the week before the event running is poor.   Don’t worry about it.  That’s normal….so shake it off and forget it.  Also, you are likely to have every type pain and ache ever known on the day before the marathon.  That’s normal.  While we are on the physiological subject, prepare for a little let-down after you accomplish this massive goal.  As soon as the marathon is over, pick another goal…it will help with the transition.  BUT….give your body a chance to heal before you start heavy training again. 

Allot ENOUGH TIME for everything on both Friday and Saturday (or Sat and Sun).  On race day get up early enough to eat and have bathroom time.  Yeah, you need to eat on marathon day.  Get to the expo in plenty of time to get your packet….view the Expo and get back to the hotel and get your feet up.    

LOOK AT WEATHER.COM and try to visualize what you will wear race day.  WHEN PACKING….if in doubt CARRY IT with you to the race.  When dressing the morning of…usually dressing DOWN is the best advice.  Normally it’s warmer than expected.  Protecting your hands (cheap disposable gloves) is imperative.  Wear a black garbage bag to the start line for warmth…then CAREFULLY throw it away before the gun sounds.  An alternative is to wear a tee shirt you KNOW you are going to throw away….cut the thick material at the top and the waist at home with scissors …then TEAR IT OFF at the two or three mile mark….it will  make you feel like Superman!!  And of course, pin your number on your front.  Need to carry Tums, GU or money?  Put it in a Ziploc and stuff it in your waistband. 
Again, run your own race.  Don’t go out too fast.  Maintain a pace that you know you can hold for hours.  Listen to your body.  Drink before you are thirsty…and the most important thing of all…..enjoy yourself!!!  Remember, you are doing something that about .001% of people in the world can do, so BE PROUD OF YOURSELF. 

I’m proud of you for what you have done!

Good luck and God Speed!


From Runner’s World

1.     DON’T DO ANYTHING NEW.  Race day is not the time for new shoes, new food or drinks, new clothing, or anything else you haven’t done on several training runs.  Stick with a routine that works for you.  “I learned the hard way that when you try something new on race day, you often end up regretting it,” says Russ Pate, who has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and qualified for three U.S. Marathon Trials in ’72, ’76, and ’80.  “I eventually developed a routine that I followed ritualistically before all my races.”

2.     EAT FIRST THING.  Too many marathoners skip breakfast on race day, opting            for just a cup of coffee and/or some sports drink.  You need more than that.       “From the time you go to bed until the start of the race is usually eight to 10           hours,” Says Ken Sparks, who has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and ran a      personal best 2:28 at age 46.  “In that time, your liver glycogen – which is         stored carbohydrate – gets depleted.  If you don’t have a simple, high-carb          breakfast, you’re going to be in trouble at 20 miles.” Bananas, bagels, or         energy bars are good picks.

3.     DON’T OVERDRESS.  Marathons often start in the cool of early morning, and     it’s easy to overestimate the amount of clothing you’ll need.  As a rule of            thumb, it will probably feel 10 or more degrees warmer once you get going,           and temps will rise as the day goes on.  If you wear too much clothing, you’re        carrying extra weight, and will sweat more than you want, possibly increasing       your body temperature and risk of dehydration.  “If you overdress, you create      a microclimate around the skin that induces sweating,” says Mel Williams,           Ph.D., an exercise physiologist, author of The Ergogenic Edge, and veteran       marathoner who expects to run his 30th-straight Marine Corps Marathon on     October 30 (2005).  “The best clothing allows for some heat loss, but not so             much that you become uncomfortably cold.”

4.     PREVENT CHAFING.  “During a marathon, every moving body part that can             chafe will chafe,” says Williams.  And nothing is more irritating and painful           than skin rubbed raw.  To prevent this, make sure your shoes, socks, and     clothing have no raised seams that will rub against the skin.  Also, use        Vaseline, Body Glide, or something similar in key locations, including your          armpits, nipples, and inner thighs.

5.     WEAR SUNSCREEN.  Marathoners sometimes don’t think about the fact that     they’re in the sun long enough to get sunburned.  “This is particularly true if   you finish in four or five hours, which takes you into the high-sun time of day, or if you run the Boston Marathon, which starts at noon on a course with little      shade.  “I used to run with a cap on my head, but then decided that the cap       was holding in too much heat,” remembers Williams.  “So one year, I ran         without the cap.  I got sunburned so badly, it turned into one of my most    painful races.  Now I put a nongreasy sunblock on my head, my shoulders, and   my lips.”

6.     PIN YOUR RACE NUMBER ON YOUR SHORTS.  That way you can fiddle all you     want with your upper-body apparel.  If the temperature rises, you can peel off   the long-sleeve shirt that kept you toasty for the first three miles.  If the wind    kicks up, reach for the shirt that’s wrapped around your waist.  “When you     put your number on your shorts, you can add or subtract layers as needed to         adjust to changing conditions,” says Greg Crowther, a 2:22 marathoner with a      Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics.  “On a hot day, you could even exchange a        sweaty shirt for a dry one.  The easier you can vary your torso covering, the         better.”

7.     GO FOR THE JOLT.  Twenty years ago, researchers thought that caffeine             helped runners burn more fat, thereby sparing precious glycogen.  That    theory has been mostly disproved, but caffeine does make the marathon feel          easier.  “I did a caffeine-endurance study with some researchers at Yale, and                we didn’t find any difference in fat burning,” says Hal Goforth, who has run           the last 28 Boston Marathons in a row and has a Ph.D. in kinesiology and a      marathon PR of 2:28.  “But the exercisers on caffeine had higher levels of     beta-endorphins and a lower perceived effort.”  So drink your normal amount             of coffee before the race.  Or, if you want to be more scientific about it,        Goforth suggests taking caffeine tablets 60 to 90 minutes before the             marathon at a dose of three milligrams per pound of your body weight.

8.     TOP OFF YOUR TANK. Most marathoners know enough to stay well hydrated       in the days before their race.  It’s tough to superhydrate, however, because   your kidneys have time to release any excess water you consume.  But in the           final minutes to half hour before the start, you can trick your kidneys by   sneaking in a late drink.  (Your kidneys will mostly shut down once you start            running hard) “I Carry my Gatorade to the starting line, and keep sipping it as         long as my stomach feels comfortable,” says Williams, who also eats pretzels   before the marathon, figuring the extra salt will help him retain the fluids he          consumes.

9.     KEEP YOUR WARMUP SHORT.  It makes sense to not warm up much before a          marathon.  After all, you want to save energy.  But you’ll actually run more efficiently if you first loosen up your leg muscles.  “I do a warm up just to the      point of a very light sweat,” says Kitty Consolo, who has a Ph.D. in exercise      physiology and a marathon best of 2:42.  “I also use my warm up to gauge the        weather, to see how I’ll need to adjust my pace to the conditions.”

10.  RUN EVEN PACE.  This is possibly the oldest and most important of marathon         strategies.  “Both the laboratory data and experiences of countless         marathoners show that even-pace running is the optimal approach,” says         Pate.  In my best marathons, I almost felt that I was running too slow the first         five to 10 miles.”  Exercise physiologist Phil Sparling, Ph.D., concurs.  “You         have to run so slow that it feels like you’re holding yourself back,” says         Sparling.  Later it feels so good when you’re going strong and passing people.”

11. FIX IT SOONER, NOT LATER.  You might notice that your shoelace is beginning      to come untied.  Or you’re starting to chafe in that one particular spot.  Or a         pebble has taken up residence in your left shoe.  These things don’t go away         on their own.  And the sooner you deal with them, the better you’ll fair over         the distance.  “It’s like the old saying, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a         pound of             cure,’” says Crowther.  “Only in the marathon, it’s more like an   ounce of cure early is better than a pound of pain later.”

12. DRINK EARLY – AND LATE.  When you’re aiming for a fast marathon time –         say a sub-three-hour – every ounce of fluid you consume helps maintain the         blood flow to your skin (for cooling) and to your heart and muscles.  Since         running hard slows the absorption of fluids from your stomach, you need to         begin drinking early to have fluids become available later.  That said, Crowther         says drinking at the 24-mile mark also helps.  “There might not be time to         absorb all the water and sugars, but some can get into your system, and this will help you in that last tough mile.” (Important note: If you expect to run         four hours or slower, be careful not to overdrink and develop hyponatremia.   Drink when you are thirsty, and stop drinking if your stomach becomes uncomfortable full of fluids.)

13. USE SOME GEL.  Sports drinks contain carbohydrates and other good stuff,         but gels provide a more concentrated source of carbs that can prove especially helpful in the last half of the marathon.  Williams carries four gel    packs, and takes them at miles 10, 14, 18, and 22.  “I’m trying to get about 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour,” says Williams.  “That’s about the maximum the body can handle.”

14. DRAFT OFF SOMEONE.  Hey, it works for Lance Armstrong.  The drafting effect isn’t as strong in running, but it’s still there.  “I always tried to tuck in behind someone in my marathons, because it’s so much more efficient to follow,” says Sparks.  “I’d often pick one of the first women.  They’d usually run a strong, even pace.”  Just be decent about it and don’t follow too closely, or better yet, agree to take turns leading so you’re working together with this person.  Alternative: Find a marathon that offers pace groups, and join the       peloton, just like Lance.

15. DON’T CHARGE THE HILLS.  The goal in marathon running is to maximize your         efficiency over 26.2 miles.  That’s why drafting works.  And it’s why running         hard up the hills doesn’t work.  “From an energy-output perspective, you gain         more speed by putting your effort into the flats than the hills,” says Crowther.          “When you’re on the hills, just relax.  Don’t worry about those people who are         passing you.  You’ll get them back later.”

Kenneth Williams, @MarathonKoach.

To find all my longer “Tips from @MarathonKoach,” click HERE.

And if you’re interested in stories about running the world’s greatest marathon, check out!

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