Marathon Training- Race Time- Part 4

Kevin D. Barclay PT, SCS, ATC, CSCS
COO- Co-owner of Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, P.C.
Well, the Boston Marathon is just six weeks away. Looking back on my previous training tips I noticed how much of my own advice I have needed to take to stay on track.  I suffered a calf injury that made it impossible  to run normally for almost three weeks. I was able to use our Alter G® treadmill, cross train, and get treated with the Graston® technique to keep me going until I was healthy.  My training is back on track and I am beginning to prepare for my trip to Boston.

There are some important things to remember whenever you head into your Race Weekend:

  • Eat well:  If a marathon runner is taking in proper fuel for the race it is not uncommon for that athlete to gain 2-3 pounds the week prior to the marathon.  This is a combination of decreased intensity of exercises as well as “carbo loading”. Of course these added pounds should be quality foods for energy including whole grain breads/cereals, potatoes and pastas. The diet should continue to include plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein. The day before the race make sure you are eating fairly bland foods to avoid stomach upset and avoid too many “emptying” foods like high fiber foods and roughage.
  • Hydrate: Part of your potential weight gain should be due to hydrating properly. Drink plenty of water and make sure you include drinking  the replacement fluid that will be offered during the marathon. You want to avoid your body being “surprised” by what you put in it on race day.  Sip on a water bottle constantly the day before the race. Minimize or eliminate drinking alcohol leading up to the race. It will accelerate dehydration.
  • Rest:  You will probably not sleep well, or very long,  the night before the marathon so make sure that two nights before the race you sleep (or at least stay in bed) as long as you can.  Go get your number, bag, shirt, etc. provided from the registration tent/expo and then go back to where you are staying and rest.  If the race offers a big expo with vendors, clothing, and demonstrations try and attend two days before the marathon and use the day before to lie around, stretch and prepare for the race.  Standing/walking  all day long to participate in  the “marathon experience” could make your legs a bit overly tired when you are actually “experiencing the marathon”!
  • Prepare:  The night before the marathon lay out all your clothes and shoes, make sure you have your number and attach it to your clothes.  Pack your bag you will be taking with lubricants, band aids, extra water, fuel packets/food, extra shoe laces and put it by the door.  When I am in a hotel I set the clock, set my phone AND ask for a wake up call.  Make sure you have multiple ways to get up on time.  Make sure you eat something before bed and have something ready to eat when you wake up.  Your body will use much of your stores, if you don’t eat much after dinner, the night before the race.  Do not eat a heavy meal closer then 2 hours before race time. Drink plenty of fluids up to 20-30 minutes before the race.
  • Racing:  Get to your start early enough to stretch, warm-up, and get mentally prepared.  Stressing out and rushing because you are cutting it too close will get your heart pumping and adrenaline racing much too early. Wear warm up clothes you can “throw away” just before start.  Many marathons take clothes left purposely behind and donate then to charity. Take advantage of the water and fuel stops early.  If you wait until you feel hungry or thirsty your body may already be too low on fuel to recover.  Once again you should have been using the fuel gels offered during the marathon while you were training to avoid unnecessary stomach issues.  Do not change your pace or goals for the marathon on race day. You may be excited and feel good early, but it is a long race.  You have trained for months to reach your goal, aim for that. You can always modify your goal for next marathon. 

Enjoy your race whether it be this month or one for which you have yet to start training.  Feel free to contact me with questions, frustrations, concerns and/or little victories along the way.  Enjoy the process as well as the race!