My marathon is three weeks away so now what? Well, the hard work has been done, endless miles of running, hours upon hours have been logged. I have run on every road in this county over the last few months, taking in the sights. I have had a few bumps along the way, but nevertheless, I ran on working to do what I could to stay on track. As the last weeks are upon me, I strategize and think about what to do from this point forward knowing what I know about me. The plan is simple, but requires continued discipline so as not to blow it at the last-minute.
Nutrition is critical to my running, this I know from experience. When I don’t eat right the running is more difficult. Some runners are convinced that carbo loading is critical days before the big run, but I have found that too much of a good thing makes me feel weighted down. Just weeks away, I am really focusing on what I eat consistently so when the week before arrives, I am in a routine that doesn’t cause me distress, digestively, makes me feel light on my feet and gives me the sustained energy I need to go the distance. I carefully log my food each day which is necessary for me to see what I am eating. This keeps me from overeating. I work to add some good carbs in during my morning meal, usually a protein shake with some fruit and veggies, and I focus on protein, good fat and smaller amounts of carbs throughout the day. This includes cottage cheese, cheese sticks, yogurt, small amounts of fruit (half apple, half banana), and some avocado and almond butter. I also make protein powder balls to have if I get hungry. Occasionally, I through in some grilled meat and veggie burgers when I want it. I work hard to hit my water intake too. This is hard for me, but becomes critical to optimal performance. When a person is dehydrated even slightly they can lose up to 20% of their stamina and strength. DRINK Water becomes my motto!
My running schedule looks different as well as I get closer to the real deal. Three weeks before, I plan a race to give me a gage of the possibilities with my time on the marathon. This helps me to see…. am I on target? I do this for another reason too. If it doesn’t turn out like I hoped in this pre-race then I have time to adjust my mind and be realistic about what is to come in a few weeks. I hate being disappointed. If I am way off I need to deal with it now so that on race day, I either get what I expect or I out do what I expect. I hate walking away from a race disappointed, knowing how I should perform puts me in a win-win situation. It is just a good predictor.
The third week out, I also log miles everyday, six to ten miles and get those legs tired for the pre-race on that following Saturday, This will tell me what I need to know. This time I am running a 15 miler and it will tell me enough to know what to expect in just a few weeks…good or bad! I also will continue to work on core strength and body movement exercises.
Two weeks out, I will taper back on the miles, but pick up the pace. I will do three-mile runs just about daily going as hard as I can and continue to do core work and body movement.
One week out… I rest, sleep well, no running and eat good. I increase my good dense carbs like brown rice and sweet potatoes, but I don’t get crazy adding tons of pasta and bread. I try to be smart. I get my play list ready, my clothes and all the running paraphernalia I need that I have trained with… GU, gum, and Tylenol.
On race day I enjoy my accomplishment of doing the marathon, the atmosphere and another completed goal reached:) The weeks after, I rest my weary legs eagerly thinking about my next challenge!