Now that I’m 5 weeks out from my A Race for the fall, the bulk of my training is in the books- I just need to stick to the training schedule, do a few more weeks of hard workouts, a few weeks of taper, and then I’m set.
That takes care of a big part of the marathon preparation, but there’s still a significant piece of the puzzle that is worth thinking about. The training gets physically prepared to arrive at the start line, but to have a successful marathon, there are other things to think about.
Something that I've started to do after my last few marathons is taking note of everything I do (what I ate, what I did for runs, how much sleep I got etc) for the last two days leading in to the marathon, and then emailing that to myself so I can look back at it and try to figure out how those things contributed to either my success or struggle on race day.
I also email myself a list of things that I felt went right or wrong on race day- what I ate for breakfast, how long before the start I ate, how often I took gels, how often I drank (and what I drank), what I wore and so on.
For example, here’s what I emailed myself after the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon (which went really well):
- very easy 4k run mid morning Saturday
- big meal around 3PM Sat- Lasagna & Ziti
- smaller meal around 7PM Sat- rest of Ziti & salad
- woke up 3 hours before race
- ate oatmeal & yoghurt for breakfast, drank coffee
- ate a Honey Stinger waffle 45 mins before start
- wore calf compression sleeves, Saucony split shorts, NB longsleeve shirt for race
- wore Newton Distance shoes
- took gels every 6K
- drank gatorade at most stations
- went through ½ at 2 seconds/km slower than goal pace, started picking up pace at 28km
- started listening to ipod at 28km
On the other hand, things that I have noted not to do before a marathon:
- eat a massive amount of pasta at 8:30pm the night before a marathon
- let my wife drag me around Ikea for 3 hours the afternoon before a race
- wear shoes that are getting toward the end of their life
We put so much time and effort into training for a marathon, yet sometimes we forget that there are all the other little things that can have an effect on our performance on race day. If we can take some of the variables out, then we stand a better chance of having a positive marathon experience and achieving our goals.