Monday, February 7, 2011

Eliminate Stress ... Run Your Best!

Just 13 days to go ...
'Til the 2011 Austin Marathon is finally here!  If I can complete it without breaking a hip, it will be my 9th in the collector's edition of 50 I'm shooting for!  Today I thought I'd share a few things that make my life a little easier in prepping for a marathon.  Like many of us, I run quite a few races, and there's really no need to "reinvent the wheel" each time I gear up for a new 26.2.  Like all of my "bright ideas", this is nothing ground breaking, but these helpful tips have significantly reduced my stress and allow me focus on the race when I arrive at the marathon city ...
Pouring over the details
1) Stick to "The Script"...
There's nothing worse than realizing you forgot your shoes, or realizing at the starting line that you didn't charge your Garmin.  Here is checklist I put together to remind me of all the things I need befor a race, and also at the starting line in my checked gear bag.  It has helped make the morning of the race "stress-free", so I can focus on my 26.2 instead of scurrying around chasing last minute details.

2) A course is a course of course ...
This might be the most obsessive thing I do before the marathon.  I study and study and study the course map.  And then I study it again.  Also, it takes a little extra gas and time, but I try to drive the course a couple of times (or six) so I can become as familiar as possible with where I'll be running.  I focus primarily on elevation, but also pay close attention on turns, terrain, and enviornment.  I don't want anything about the track to be "new" to me during the marathon. Jotting down little notes along the way, like "only 2 miles to the yellow house" , or "this is the last major hill", greatly helps me defeat the course not only physically, but also psychologically.

3) Set & practice the pace chart ...
I'm sure everyone does this, but several weeks before the race, I develope my pace plan and run it over and over and over.  There are some training plans that have you practice your long runs much slower than marathon pace, and that's fine if it works for you.  But I can never seem to train at a slower pace, and then just flip a switch on race day and run further and faster than ever.  I want to know how my body feels at marathon pace, so I try to embed it into my "muscle memory" during training.

4) Pin me ...
This sort of goes along with #1, but I ALWAYS have everything laid out and ready to go the night before.  Including, PINNING MY FREAKING RACE # ON MY SHIRT!!!  For some reason, getting the bib straight and centered on my shirt takes me 3 or 4 tries.  My first couple of races, I screwed around with this the morning of the race.  When I was done, I was a frazzled mess ... pathetic, I know.  But I try to prep everything from laying out my clothes & packed bag, to having every electronic device charged (except for Utah, I forgot to charge my Garmin!)

5) Strong to the finish cause I eat's me spinach ...
Food while travelling can be a little tricky, so I usually try to pack as much of my pre-race nutrition as possible.  I take a pre-planned nutritional value spreadsheet so I'm not guessing at what I'm putting into my body before 3-1/2 hours of running.  I monitor everything as closely as possible.  (probably should do more of this in my daily nutrition)

Well, that's about it.  There are several other little tedious details that I won't bore you with, but maybe this helped someone.  Anyways ... off to "information overload"!
What do you do to make your life easier before the big day?
... be great today!


  1. oh man.

    I feel like such a loser. you are such a prepared racer!!

    I'm. taking. notes.

    I don't look at anything on the course other than elevation change.

    I don't drive the course [did that once - freaked. the. crap. otta. me.]

    I. suck. at. diet/nutrition.
    but I love spinach - so I'm good right?!

    wait...and I make lists. lots of lists.

    YAY you!! 13 days!!!

  2. Emz ... I've seen the "situation" you got goin' with the mid drift ... so I'm not buyin' the nutrition part!

  3. I am like this for everything not just races, everything in my life. Over prepared and lists always. I make my husband drive the course with me, he does not always like it because I rend to freak out when I see hills when the course was said to be flat...but I prefer knowing ahead of time what is coming my way the next day.

  4. EXCITING!!! I love your excel list! Mine is always written on paper. I should have an official one by now though haha. I'll get on that!

  5. Great list! I'll be borrowing these ideas if I ever feel crazy enough to hit another marathon. ;o)

  6. Wow! You are seriously organized! Share that list of everything you need! And my husband is totally feeling the same way about the 3 - 6 inches we are supposed to get tonight!

  7. Wow are you sure you are not an Ironman guy? I heard they love charts and stuff all those kinds of details. I'm afraid if I did all that it would completely psych me out. Whatever works! Good luck in 13 days!

  8. Jim, thanks so much for the shoutout and the kind words. The support I received was crazy. You continual confidence helped me.

    Here's a funny story with regards to #1. Guess what I almost forgot yesterday? Um, only my running shorts. In the hotel I had my sweatpants on. I wore my sweats on the shuttle and was going to drop them at gear drop. Well, just as I was about to leave the hotel room I realized that I never put on my running shorts. Can you imagine the horror if I got to gear check, took off the sweats and didn't have my shorts?!

    As for pace, for me, I always keep the same pace for the whole race. I set my garmin to auto-relap every mile so I have two Data Fields. Lap pace (resets 26 times) and total avg pace. Then, I just stay right on it.

    Thanks again! DQ or Die.

  9. I am so impressed by your organization!

  10. Wow, I just show up and run. No wonder I am not getting faster I have to be better prepared.

  11. I can tell what shirt you're wearing. I'm wearing the same one right this second. I'm kind of a creep.

  12. I'm so with you in preparing... that's a whole other event in itself! Good luck with the taper... the race will be here before you know it!


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