i just finished my second marathon, and boy did it go better than the first. i was completely unprepared for my first marathon, and i ran (or hobbled it) at 5:49. this year i ran in much worse weather conditions at 4:59.
here is what i did to prepare for this year’s race. (note: these are what work for me, everyone is different)
i trained for 17 weeks with the fleet feet burbank marathon training group. the training program cost me $105 but it was the best decision i could have made. we met twice per week, doing our short runs (or things like tempo runs, fartleks, hill repeats) on tuesdays and our long runs on saturdays. i only got up to 19 miles in training, but also did a lot of runs that were 14-17 miles long. not only was this group great to motivate me and educate me on running, it was also a blast! i now am part of the coolest running group (or team?) ever and i know i’ll run many more races with these guys.
i started drinking water (almost) exclusively starting monday. i had a couple sips of coffee (or beer) but accompanied them with large quantities of water. on sunday morning before the race, i woke up at 3 am (4 hours before the start) and chugged a bottle of water that i had left in the fridge to keep cold. then i filled it back up, put a nuun in it and put it back in the fridge. i grabbed this when i left for the race at 3:45 am and drank it until around 5:30 am.
during the race, i had my camelbak on me (best. thing. ever.) but that ran out at around mile 21/22. i took water whenever possible (and if i took the yellow gatorade, i chased it down with a glass of water).
my big rules for prerace eating are to stay away from 1. lactose and 2. fiber. staying away from fiber means minimal fruits/veggies/whole-grain anything. monday through thursday, i started my day with a bruegger’s bagel and cream cheese (i love carbo loading) (i know cream cheese has lactose but i used a minimal amount and stopped on thursday). all week i tried to eat whenever i was hungry. on monday night i made this pasta and i had leftovers until friday.
saturday before the race, i ate two (!) chipotle burritos with rice and extra chicken for lunch. i ate them a couple hours apart, but i could barely finish the second. at night i ate pasta with a little olive oil and a little pasta sauce. i ate about 1/2 lb of the pasta.
last week, i spoke with a mentor of mine from high school. he suggested sleeping as much as possible two nights before the race, that way the night before race day, even if i can’t sleep or keep waking up, i got a lot of sleep the night before. i went to bed at around 10 pm friday night (and woke up at 7 am) for 9 hours of sleep. then saturday i napped for a couple hours, and went to bed at 8:30 pm saturday night (but didn’t really fall asleep until 9 pm).
i knew this marathon would be hot. it was all over facebook the week before the race (and unfortunately, it was very accurate). the high in santa monica was a record setting 91 degrees. everything i read about running in the heat was to run slowly. originally my goal for this race was 4:30 (or at least between 4:30 and 5 hours), but once i saw all of these reports, i changed my goal from a time goal to “finishing with a smile”. i started off the race at an 11:00-11:30 pace for the first 17 or so miles (usually i run at around a 10 min pace, so this felt very slow and comfortable, almost “easy”). once the weather hit, i stopped to walk as much as i needed to prevent heat stroke (i could hear my mother’s voice in my head). the weather clearly had an impact on my time, but because i took it slowly at first, i think my body handled it better than if i had pushed too hard at the start.
in summary, my biggest pre-marathon tips:
1. train with a group! it’s way more fun, and they help hold you accountable (especially for those mornings where you really don’t feel like running).
2. drink a lot of water a week before the race.
3. figure out what food works for you during training. (on our first 17 mile run, i felt like i had no energy. i researched online and realized i needed to eat two lunches the day before a long run.)
4. create a really long playlist. i thought mine was long (i think it had over 80 songs) but it felt like the same songs kept repeating.
5. turn off phone notifications. if you don’t want to drain your phone battery while running because of game updates, turn off all unnecessary notifications. plus you’ll want to save your phone battery for the finish line.