I'm running the New York Marathon next weekend. This is my first marathon, so I'm a bit apprehensive.
What should I do during this week to prepare? And what advice do you have to give me for the morning of the race?
- Ibra Morales
At this point, you've done all of the training that you can and you should be concentrating on healing and resting your body and preparing it for the run.
As for running, run no more than 3-5 miles per day this week and consider not running at all on the day or two before the race itself. This will allow your body to recover so that it is healed and rested for the race.
Try to run all of your mileage at the actual pace that you plan to run the marathon. This will get your body used to running the correct pace and will help you to avoid starting the marathon too quickly (a typical and dangerous novice marathoning mistake). Some runners like to break their pre-marathon-week running up into timed quarter-mile segments - but again, these should be as close to race pace as you can manage.
As for food: carbo-loading is helpful in providing your body with the fuel to make it through the whole 26 miles. Eat full and healthy meals the two days before the marathon, and especially the night before. Concentrate on eating complex-carbohydrates, but this is not the time to try anything that you're not used to eating.
Different people have different pre-race breakfasts depending on their constitution and how well they keep their food in during a long run. But consider this - most people rise very early on the day of the marathon, spend a long time getting to the race and waiting for the start. Add that to the hours of the run - and you'll see there's a long time between rising and a real meal. Consider how hungry you might feel at lunch time on a work day if you've gone without breakfast and take this into account when deciding what to eat in the morning.
Most importantly - have fun and relax. You'll have 29,000 companions in the New York marathon, many of whom will not have trained as well as you have. Yet somehow, the vast majority of these runners will cross the finish line with with no problem and with an experience to remember. If you've done your work - and are well rested and fueled - you should have no problem.
- John Elliott
The founder of MarathonGuide.com,
John has run 4 New York marathons and survived every one of them.