Marathon Preparation – what to do now

img_7073Marathon season is in full swing. Whether you are preparing for your first marathon, your one-hundredth marathon, or a goal personal best, there are a few things you should start to practice and plan NOW so that race day goes smoothly!

  • Finalize accommodations. Race weekend can become stressful. You will naturally be a bit anxious or excited. Having your plans for the weekend – including where you are going to eat, stay and how you will get to/from the race ironed out now will equal minimal chance for added stress on race weekend.
  • Practice in what you’ll wear. Everything from your shoes to your hat – wear your “race outfit” for a few long runs. This will minimize the risk of blisters, chafing, overheating, or simply annoying or uncomfortable race-day issues. If you plan to buy new shoes for your marathon, buy them and break them in on a few long runs in the weeks leading up to the big day.
  • Practice how you will fuel on race day. Everything from what you’ll eat the night before and morning of to how often you will refuel with water or GU on the course. Leaving nutrition to chance is a good way to guarantee you’ll take a tour of the porta-potties mid-race.
  • Start looking at your race course and elevation. Make note of landmarks, turns, water stations, and other useful points on the course. You don’t want to feel “lost” on race day. Know the course, and you’ll be prepared for success.
  • Set a few race-day goals. It’s impossible to predict what will happen with 26.2 miles of running, and setting one ambitious best-case scenario goal may set you up for a whole lot of heart ache. A few goals means you may have fall-back goals you can still achieve if the star’s don’t align.
  • Look at your training paces and come to terms with your strengths and weaknesses. Runners who know themselves often have a better chance of handling the tough moments and getting back on track. Revisiting your training should also give you some confidence. The proof is in the numbers, and so try not to doubt your training while you taper.
  • If you are going to have friends/family cheering on the race course, discuss ahead of time exactly where they will be. It takes a lot of energy to search a crowded block while trying to stick to your paces. Knowing they will be on the northwest corner of Chestnut Street, wearing blue and holding a sign is a million times easier than looking for someone “at the intersection of Chestnut Street.”
  • Make clear and definitive plans for what to do and how to get home, to the hotel, or to find family post-race. Be realistic and give yourself extra time. Marathoners move notoriously slow post-race.

No matter how your race weekend goes, try to have some fun and relax. There is always something positive to take away and learn from every race. If things don’t go your way, at least you know you were prepared. That should narrow the possibilities for making the same mistake twice – and hopefully you’ll have a kick ass race and will cross the finish line with a smile from ear to ear, feeling awesome.

Them Feet

My babies.

My babies.

Let’s face it, runners rely on their feet for a lot. I remember once having nice, pedicured, lovely feet. Ah, those were the days.

It’s been years since I’ve rocked a french pedicure, or one that laster very long. These days I wear shoes for comfort and support, not for cuteness. The amount of sexy heels I have that spend most of their time in my closet instead of on my feet is probably a sin to most girls. But runners know: your feet are necessary to do what we do. We try to be “kind” to them, but at the end of the day we beat the crap out of them.

There are a few things we can do to protect and pamper those pavement-pounding puppies. First, let’s prioritize our shoes. Buying shoes because they are cute or on sale is a bad idea. Your poor feet don’t care what color or price the shoes you lace up is, but they do care about aches and pains. Buy shoes that are correct for your feet. Just because one brand works for your friend doesn’t mean they’ll work for you. Your feet are unique to you.

Keep track of your mileage, so you have a rough idea of when you should be replacing shoes. Most good shoes (not racing flats, btw), last 400-500 miles. Personally, I’m a fan of having 2-4 pairs of running shoes in rotation at all times, so that my body never “settles” and forms habits based on one shoe style.

When traveling and remaining stationary, compression socks may help your feet and ankles. My ankles and feet swell on long car rides and flights, thanks to very low blood pressure.

Ladies, avoid those cute shoes that have zero arch support. If you have plantar issues, it may be due to the shoes you are wearing when not running. High heels don’t do your feet or calf muscles any favors either.

Soaking your tootsies in warm water and/or Epsom salts can also help.

Keep your toe nails short. If they get too long, they can actually cut into your toes on long runs.

And, for God’s sake, do NOT run in cotton socks. Blisters are painful, and can cause infection. If you run under 30 minutes at a time, you might get away with cotton socks. Try cotton socks on a 15 miler in summer, and you will be in trouble. Am I clear on my view of cotton socks? Good.