Weeks leading up to the Marathon
-Water water water! Stay hydrated!
-Good balance of protein, complex carbohydrates (building up glycogen), and fats
Immediate 2 days prior to the Marathon
-Start adding in more complex carbohydrates now
-Not too much salt
Night before the Marathon
-Bland and balanced! Nothing acidy or spicy -- heartburn is a killer in a race! It is best to consume a simple protein, simple green vegetable (but not too much -- causes excess gas), and perhaps a baked potato. Even better are sweet potatoes!
-If you are used to eating before a run, eat a little more than usual, but more of the same things: complex carbs (especially important here -- no simple carbs!) and protein. Continue plenty of water. Coffee/tea/caffeine is OK, just drink more water.
During the Race
-Some water (not too much) at each water stop
-UCAN (better than gels or Gatorade)
-If you are going to use gels, replenish your stores of sugars every 45 minutes with gels like Gu, sports beans, etc., to the tune of 100 calories. Do not overdo it, or you will spike your blood sugar and hence spike your insulin, which will throw off your balance and leave you depleted.
-If you are going to use Gatorade and the like, only do so in the final miles of the race, when you really need the sugar boost.
After the Race
-Water water water!
-Electrolytes -- now is the time for Gatorade!
-Protein! Your body will need a lot of it to recover faster
-Again, water water water! The majority of the weird "off" after-marathon feeling is because of dehydration, even if you don't think you're dehydrated.
-Indulge, but don't over-indulge! Give yourself that day and the next day to be "bad," but after that, get back to the healthy ways that got you here in the first place.
Good complex carbohydrates:
-potatoes, yams, beans, peas, whole grain bread, bananas, whole grain pastas, whole grain cereals, whole grain bagels, honey (as opposed to sugar), brown rice, corn, carrots, other root vegetables
-low fat milk, beans, lean beef, chicken, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, cottage cheese, soy, tofu, tempeh, seitan, some vegetarian “meats” (Quorn brand is best brand because of unique protein from mushrooms and highest protein-to-carb ratio)
Marathon "Do"s and "Don't"s
Marathon “Do”s: Be positive, you have done your training, be determined that you will finish!
Two/Three Weeks Prior
· Taper in the last two/three weeks according to the Galloway Training Schedule. Stop speed work two-three weeks before the marathon.
Week of Marathon
· Clip your toenails about 2 or 3 days before the marathon.
Two Days Prior
· Carb load, hydrate.
· Get a good night's sleep 2 nights before the marathon. No one ever sleeps well the night before the marathon.
· Eat a balanced meal the night before the race. Don’t overeat, you will feel heavy in the morning and have potential bathroom issues.
· Set more than one alarm clock, phone alarm, sports watch, alarm radio or whatever. (Watch the a.m. / p.m. settings!)
· Eat breakfast, even if you don't before crack-of-dawn long runs.
· When you get to the start, go to the bathroom immediately. You will thank yourself later.
· Split the race into chunks. Five miles or 5k, so that you feel you are making progress. Faster runners should relax to 16 miles, and then treat the rest as a 10-mile road race.
· Stick to an even pace you know you can finish in. Carry a watch and don't get distracted in the excitement. Start your watch as you cross the start line, so you will then know your true time for the distance.
· Carefully plan your route and timing to the start, so you don't end up rushing or panicking.
· Study the course. Know where the water stations are, where the Gu will be and the bathrooms. This will give you confidence along the way.
· Choose the appropriate run/walk ratio for your predicted marathon pace, and stick to it!
· Take all walk breaks -- especially the early ones. Don’t try to bank time or run straight because you feel good, early on. You will pay for it later.
· Find clothes that you can throw away. It’s better to start the marathon warm. If you have checked a bag, you can fill it with all of your after-race clothing.
· Check out your gear carefully. Lay it out three or four days before the race. Then you know you haven't forgotten anything.
· Put your name on the front of your shirt. It is so nice to have people yell your name out. Use duct tape or masking tape, though, so if for some reason you want people to stop calling out your name, you can remove it.
· If you have time to wait at the start (NYC Marathon), wear “throw away” clothes.
· Ensure the clothes that you wear, you’ve worn before. You don’t want to try anything new on race day.
· If it’s cold, wear hat and wear gloves. Both of these things you can either stick in your shorts or discard them.
· If you have time before the marathon, bring a big plastic bag to wear. It will keep you warm.
· Tape up and grease. Surgical tape or “Nip Guards” on nipples (male and female) and Vaseline between the legs, under the arms and maybe on toes, if you are blister prone.
· If you’re meeting family, have a plan and an alternate plan. There are A LOT of people at the finish of the NYC marathon.
· Stay on asphalt where possible. Concrete and metal (man holes, bridge grating) are very hard on your legs.
· Don't try anything new on race day: No brand-new shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, sports drinks, energy gels or bars, or supplements. Make sure to try out any new apparel or diet item well in advance of the race.
· Don’t overdress. You should feel slightly chilly at the start of the race.
· If accepting food / drink offers from race volunteers, make sure that it is something that your stomach likes; if not, you may have bathroom issues.
· Don't get carried away in the excitement of the start. It is always better to be passing people after halfway point. Stick to your own pace.
· Don't go too fast at first. Don’t let the crowd dictate your pace.
· Don’t zigzag around people in the beginning. You’ll waste time and energy.
· Don't be on your feet all day sight seeing or shopping the day before the race. It might be tempting to explore or sightsee the day before the race with friends, but this will only leave you tired before you've even stepped on the course.
· Don't over hydrate before and during the race. Your body can only absorb so much liquid. Drinking moderately during the marathon is the best advice.
· Don’t give up caffeine the few days before if you are used to drinking it; add more water instead.
· Don’t try for a PR unless you feel really good and the weather is cooperating. If it is too hot, too cold or otherwise not great weather, you must accept that fact and go with "Plan B.”
Races in other Cities
If you go to another city for a marathon, bring along the breakfast you normally eat. Attend the expo two days prior and the day before, just relax and keep off your feet as much as possible.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
Relax and enjoy the people, the crowds, the experience...don’t get too caughtup in your time, just take it one mile at a time.
Favorite Mind Tricks
- The Alphabet Game: 26 miles, 26 letters in the alphabet. During the first mile, come up with all words that begin with an "A," second mile "B," etc. An excellent distraction :)
- Count only the even miles – miles 2, 4, 6 and so on. In my mind then, I’m only running a half marathon.
- The last 6 miles are transcendental. Remember that. The marathon starts at mile 20, this is when you run with your heart and know that you can and will finish.
- When I reach mile 20, I think, “It’s just a loop in the park or it’s just 6 miles. I can do this, I’ve done it countless times.”
- The trick to dealing with fatigue is knowing that it will happen and accepting it. The pain will come, and go with it. Don’t fight the pain; it will make it worse.
- If something happens along the way, like you get a blister or you know you’re chafing, acknowledge it and tell yourself, “I know you’re there but I don’t have time for you right now.” I got a huge blister on the bottom of my foot at mile 8 during the NYC marathon. I told myself, “I’m not going to quit now,” so I said, “I know you’re there and I’ll take care of you later.” It worked. I actually believe that the more you focus on pain or negative thoughts the more they take over.