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Pre and Post Marathon Tips

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SLB Coaching & Training Systems

Pre and Post Marathon Tips

The two weeks before your marathon can mean the success or failure of months of training.  Don’t change your diet.  “Carbo-Loading” does not improve your performance on marathon day.  In fact it can cause you to have a sub-par performance by causing gastrointestinal distress.  Eat normally for the two weeks prior to the marathon.  But, avoid caffeine and alcohol.  Both will cause you to be dehydrated.  Drink more water and sports drinks than normal.  You can avoid dehydration problems on hot or humid days by being well hydrated going into to the marathon. 

Get at least your normal amount of sleep.  Getting extra sleep during the week before the marathon will assure you are well rested and ready to perform your best.  The most important night is two nights before the marathon.  Most of us will not get enough sleep the night before the marathon, but two nights before it is very important to get enough sleep.

Cut back on your training for the two weeks before the marathon.  decrease your weekly mileage and the length of your long run.  You should not do a long run within two weeks of the marathon.  The weekend before the marathon it is okay to do a short 5 Km or 5 mile race.  don’t do the race all out, but at about 85% effort (marathon pace). 

If you’ve been doing 40 miles per week getting ready for the marathon, shorten the weekly mileage to 20 to 30 miles two weeks before the marathon.  The week of the marathon, you should not total more than your weekly average, including the marathon.  So, if your weekly average has been 40, you should not do more than 14 miles before the marathon. 

Select and pack your marathon clothes two days before the marathon.  Go over your marathon clothes and shoes the evening before the marathon.  Make adjustments for the weather.  Bring extra clothes for before the marathon and for after the marathon.  You should have warm dry clothes waiting for you at the finish.

Tips for Marathon Day – From Arthur Lydiard – Running to the Top, as modified by Neil L. Cook.

Take careful note of this 18-point marathon race check list, particularly if you are new to the competitive distance:

1.       Keep to your normal balanced meals the days before the race.  Protein, carbohydrate and fat are all necessary for a balanced metabolism in a marathon race.

2.       Eat up to 8 oz. of honey or sugars supplementary to your normal meals during the two days before the race.

3.       Finish eating about three hours before the start, if possible, or eat sparingly.

4.       Eat a light breakfast, preferably of cereals, honey and toast.

5.       Drink plenty of fluids, avoiding caffeine and alcohol.

6.       Have good-fitting shoes and clothes that will not chafe, and are suitable for the conditions of the day.

7.       Never wear anything new on marathon day.

8.       Use lubricant (Body Glide) under the arms and crotch and on the nipples.

9.       When you put on your running shoes, force your heels hard into the backs of the shoes before lacing firmly, but not too tight.  This will stop the foot movement that leads to blisters and the loss of your toenails.

10.   Do not run much before the start.  Save your energy.

11.   Stretch and loosen a little.

12.   Start well within your capabilities and warm up to the run as you go.  Hold yourself in check, it will pay off later.

13.   Do not exaggerate your knee lift.  From the start, try to relax and not lift the knees higher than necessary. You must save the muscles that lift the legs.

14.   Ignore the other runners.  Run at efforts that suit you.

15.   Prepare electrolyte drinks for a hot day.  Make the mixture weaker than directed and add some honey.

16.   Use energy gels (Clif Shot, Power Gel, Gu, Hammer Gel) before and during the marathon.

17.   Do not take salt tablets, though potassium to protect against heat is recommended.  Use buffered electrolyte tables (Succeed!) before and during the marathon.

18.   Drink water or electrolyte drinks throughout the race.  A glass just before the start can help.  If you do not have a proper drinking vessel, stop to drink to avoid gulping air.

19.   Keep your body wet.  Sponging is the best insurance against dehydration and high body temperatures.  Rim a sponge to fit into your hand and tape it there to carry water between water stations.

20.   Do not surge during the race and waste energy.

21.   Do not use anti-perspirants.  You need to sweat.

After the marathon there are three critical things you need to do.  First, you have 30 to 60 minutes to replenish your body.  So, leave some carbohydrates and protein at the finish.  Drink plenty of water during this time too.  If you consume enough water, carbohydrates and protein during the first 30 to 60 minutes after the marathon, your recovery will be much faster.

Second, after you shower ice your legs.  The best way is to use a cold shower for 5 to 10 minutes.  This will reduce the leg pain after the marathon.  Then, elevate your legs and rest.  You should walk briskly for 5 to 10 minutes every hour and ice your legs for 5 to 15 minutes.

Third, the day after the marathon go for a short (1 to 2 mile) jog (or brisk walk).  More than anything else, this will eliminate stiff and sore legs after a marathon.

The final point is to HAVE FUN!


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Neil L. Cook, 212-472-9281 or 917-575-1901 or Coach@SLB-Coaching.com or Neil.L.Cook@mindspring.com
"Sweet Lightning Bolt" used by permission.