Training for a marathon takes months of hard work as well as mental and physical preparation. Starting one week out from the big day, there are a few last minute tips that will help. It is crucial that you set realistic goals, especially if this is your first time and avoid stress.
This is not a good time to apply for a new job. Whether this is your first or your fifth marathon, these last minute suggestions could make the difference between a picture perfect and a devastating finish.
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You can run the same number of days per week but reduce the volume by approximately one third of total distance. Most marathon training schedules end with a final long run one week before but that you can easily complete in one hour.
This is a good day to visualize how the actual race day will play out and to practice getting ready by putting out your gear the night before. Eat the same things you will eat race day and start your run at exactly the same time. Do not try new shoes or clothing and check your feet for blisters. Stay well hydrated and keep a water bottle with you at all times.
Engage in physical activity but take a day off from running, and do not try anything new. Get a massage, go to a movie or do something that will distract you from race day jitters. It is critical that the muscles you have been working for so long get a chance to recover and reload glycogen.
Consume enough carbohydrates to build up energy reserves or about 3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight and focus on healthful choices such as oatmeal, rice, pasta, whole wheat bread and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Continue to stay well hydrated.
Predicting any issues is critical to race day preparedness. Make a checklist and include everything you will need with you, finalize travel plans and have your bags packed. If cold or wet weather is anticipated, include some clothing that will keep you warm and dry before the race.
Do not drink any caffeine products in the evening, and aim for 8 hours of sleep. Do go for any easy 3 or 4 mile run, but do not worry about speed. Increase carbs by a gram or two. This is also a good time to study the course route especially for changes in elevation, although for some this may create too much stress.
Many races provide a course map over the internet. Avoid alcohol and keep drinking water. A good test to see whether you are taking in enough water is the pee test. If your pee is dark or bright yellow, drink enough water until it is the color of straw or a light yellow.
Practice your routine such as applying Vaseline on hot spots where there could be chafing and make sure you have bandages for your nipples if this is a problem as well as any favorite energy boosts. If you go for a short run, then wear the same shoes and clothes that you will wear on race day. Avoid any strength training exercises and consider Yoga or a stretching class but again do not try anything new.
Continue to get eat healthful foods but reduce empty calories. Anticipate any issues with travel plans such as sunscreen or lost luggage and pack accordingly with all your race day gear in a carryon bag and include 2 ways to wake you up race day. Keep drinking water and avoid alcohol.
Cut your toe nails and treat any blisters or callouses. Get another massage but avoid deep tissue work. If you have never had a massage, don’t get one. Go through your checklist and repack your bags.
You may gain a pound or two because of less activity, but this is the time to start thinking about overloading on healthy carbs the next day. Stay well hydrated and if you are flying to your destination, drink more water than usual and pack extra.
A short fast run and a good stretch will limber up your muscles and prepare your nervous system for race day but avoid injury sources such as curbs or rough terrain.
Otherwise, stay off your feet and rest your legs. Increase intake of carbohydrates to 4.5 grams of carbs per pound of body weight to maximize glycogen stores and keep hydrating.
The day before is probably the most intense time so do not change your routine. Have everything ready at the door and don’t forget your running bib and sunglasses.
Go to bed and get up in the morning exactly as you will on race day. Make your lunch the biggest meal, avoid spicy foods, do a few stretches and sleep as much as you can that night.
Get up early so you do not arrive late. Eat a good breakfast of healthy carbs and fruits that you can peel like bananas, but do not eat too much fiber or until you are uncomfortable.
Make sure you treat and cover any blisters with bandages, double knot your shoe laces but leave room for a little swelling. Warm up at least 30 minutes before start time with a few minutes of easy jogging and some dynamic stretches.
Finally – do not start too fast and remember – You are ready for this. Smile at the camera.