If you have a late start when it comes to training for a marathon, there are several things you can do to help mitigate your training tardiness and get yourself on track fast. These 10 tips could help you make it to the finish line!
Two Weeks Out
The final two weeks before a race are crucial when it comes to last-minute training routines. If you have only been training for a few weeks or are just now getting started, these tips can help you build endurance and prepare your body for the challenge.
1. Be realistic. If you are two weeks or less away from the big day, you should technically already be done with the hard training and in taper-down mode. Try to run the distance of your planned race over a two-day period, take a day off and just do a long walk or jog to stay flexible, and repeat. Also look for a shorter race to run in the interim that is approximately half the distance of your scheduled event, such as a quick 10K if you are gearing up for a half marathon.
2. Eat and drink correctly. Have a solid nutritional plan in place designed to see you up through game day. Also watch your hydration in the days leading up to a big race and replenish fluids as needed during training.
3. Stay well rested. Sleep deprivation puts unnecessary stress on your entire body and can lead to fatigue on race day. According to MediSys, 1 in 3 Canadians are sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation is cumulative, so getting an extra four hours on a weekend doesn't make up for consistently coming up two hours short every day during the week prior.
Before Race Day
Don't leave all of the prep until the morning of or even the night before your race day. These items should be checked off well in advance.
4. Pamper your stomach. There's nothing worse than runner's stomach on the home stretch. Now isn't the time to experiment with new energy bars and sports drinks. Track your reactions to different meals before workouts and find one that proves consistent and non-threatening. Running Magazine recommends carbo loading carefully for two to three days before the race to build fuel reserves, but watch your fiber intake to avoid GI issues on race day.
5. Break in your running wear. It can be tempting to buy all new gear for the big day, but the middle of a race is the worst time to find out that your new shoes are rubbing a blister on a spot your socks failed to protect, or that your fashionably snug running tank is too tight around the chest. Make sure your race-day clothes fit well, are comfortable and don't hamper your movement.
6. Sort out your transportation. Know when you need to be on site, and when you need to leave to get there on time. Pad your transport time in case of traffic or other delays, and have a backup plan (or two) ready in case your car won't start or your ride doesn't show. Missing the race because you couldn't get to the starting line can be devastating.
7. Pack a post-race bag. Your body will cool down rapidly after the marathon, so include track pants and a hoodie as well as dry socks and underthings. You'll also need to rehydrate properly, so toss in an appropriate beverage that includes glucose, sodium, and potassium.
Ready, Set, Go
On race day, don't let nerves tie you in knots. You've prepared as well as you can with last-minute training and nutrition to get you into the best shape possible. Now it's time to focus on achieving your goal and having a great time in the process.
8. Take it easy the night before. This doesn't mean open Netflix and binge all night! Best Health recommends you limit screen time, as the blue light from your TV, tablet or phone can disrupt your ability to fall asleep. Try reading a paper book or magazine to slow your brain down naturally before turning in. Don't go to bed too early, though, or you'll throw off your sleep cycle.
9. Get up early. You'll want time to wake up gradually, eat a proven meal, take a cool shower, and double-check all of your gear before time to leave. If you've been getting appropriate amounts of sleep during your last few weeks of training, you should be fully rested and ready to run. Don't forget to slide your ID, health insurance card, and medical info into an inner short pocket just in case of an injury.
10. Stay positive! During your training, finding a mantra that will see you through your last-minute preparations and race day can be motivating. Remember, a marathon is about participation and finishing, and competing against your own best time. The value of the race is in the running.
Even if you decide to run a marathon on short notice, you can still be successful. These last-minute race training and preparation tips can help you build yourself up for your marathon and ensure you come out the other side fit and ready to schedule your next event!