Marathon season is fast approaching, with some of North America’s biggest marathons just over two months away. By now you should be well into your training for the big event. Whether you are tackling this beast of an event for the first time or it’s your 100th go at it, you have to respect the distances. Here are couple of tips to consider that I always find are the most overlooked and often changed things at the last minute with people.
1) Fueling – this is an aspect of marathon training that is often undervalued. The human body only has the ability to store glycogen for about 2 hours of aerobic activity. That glycogen is essential energy to keep the blood pumping and muscles working at an optimal rate. So you need to think about consuming carbohydrates during running to have a successful race. My best advice with fueling is always practice makes perfect. If you don’t already have a gel or energy chew that you like, go to your local running store and pick-up a variety of brands and flavours. Try them out over several long runs to see which you like the taste of and which your stomach tolerates the best. Then your goal should be to optimize how much you consume. In the buildup to the London 2012 Olympics I trained my body to consume almost 60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. That is the equivalent of 2-3 energy gels per hour. How do you know what your limit is? Your GI system will tell you. If you tolerate taking 1 gel per hour, on your next run try two. If that goes well, try three….You see the pattern. There is no one formula that can be applied to everyone. It’s very individualized. This is why practice makes perfect!
2) Gear – this is another aspect of the race that often gets thrown out the window in the days before the race. People panic and think their shoes might be dead, so they should go get a new pair. Or they find a new pair of socks at the race expo the feel great, so decide to wear them for the race. Do not make any last minute changes to your clothing and shoes for the race. Again, practice makes perfect. Do several long runs in the clothing and shoes that you plan to wear for the race. If you have problems with chaffing or blisters, try different gear next time. You should have your race day kit planned out at least 4 weeks in advance. If your shoes are due for a change within a couple weeks of the race because they are getting worn out, be sure to get a new pair and try them out at least 3-4 times before the race. When I am training and racing the marathon I always have a brand pair of Mizuno Wave Hitogami’s in the closet that I break out of the box 2 weeks out from the race. These are the same shoes I will have worn for workouts in the 12 weeks leading up to the race. I then wear the new pair for 3 workouts; 1 long run, 1 long tempo run and 1 speed session. Then I know they are broken in and ready to go for race day.