Friday, September 4, 2009

Marathon To-Do List: #1 Kick that Self-Doubt to the Curb!

It's normal and it's inevitable—marathon anxiety. You've trained for months and now "the day" is almost at hand. Did I train hard enough? Did I have enough speedwork in my plan? Were my tempo runs long and fast enough? Should I have run one more 20? All of these questions and more are probably running through your mind. That's normal, especially if it's your first marathon.

The best advice I can give you is to take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and trust in your training. You've put in the miles and you've stuck to your plan. You're ready physically. All you have to do now is believe in all the hard work you've done and get your mind as strong as your body. Self-doubt is a strong bugger. Kick it to the curb. Don't even let it on the front porch.

There are some things you can't control and there's no need to worry about, such as the weather. Mother Nature is very fickle and she can throw a curve ball at any moment. So, make sure you're prepared for any type of weather. Running a September marathon in the South? Pack a long-sleeve running shirt, just in case. Running a December marathon in the Northeast? Throw a short-sleeve shirt in your suitcase, just in case. Running a marathon in Phoenix? Pack a rain poncho, just in case. Doing these little things can help alleviate worries about the things you can't control.

I'm currently training for my 11th marathon and I've learned a few tricks in the past 11 years on the "dos" and "don'ts" of preparing for a marathon. Below are 12 tips you might want to consider as you prepare for your race day. (#10 and #11 were suggested by Thomas an avid RunnerDude's Blog reader. Thanks Thomas!)

Marathon To-Do List
1. Find out what sports drink and/or sports gel will be provided along the course. (Either train using what will be provided or decide to carry your own or have family members/friends provide it for you along the course. Never train using one brand then switch to another on race day.)
2. Become familiar with the race course. (No need to memorize every street name and turn, but identifying major hills and other course challenges can be helpful.)
3. Keep tabs on the weather. (Periodically check to see what the forecast is for race day; best to be prepared with cold/heat/rain gear than not.)
4. Give yourself plenty of travel time, especially if the race is out of town. (If going to a new city, it's best to arrive two days before the race. This gives you time to acclimate to your surroundings and a new bed.)
5. Pack your race-day clothes and running shoes in your carry-on bag if you're flying. (If your luggage gets lost you'll be able to run as planned.)
6. Pick up your race packet early. (No need to wait until the last minute to pick up your packet. You never know what may come up to delay pickup.)
7. Have a plan for where to meet your family/friends after the race. (No need speeding longer than it took to run the marathon looking for your family.)
8. Layout your racing clothes, shoes, and gear the night before the race. (Go ahead and pin your race bib to the front of your shirt too.)
9. Don't overdress for the race (Rule of thumb is to dress like it's 15 degrees warmer than it really is. Your body will warm up at least by that much while running.)
10. Take along some old sweats to the start. (Some races have you at the start really early and it can get chilly in the wee hours of the morning especially at a fall or winter marathon. The sweats will keep you warm while you wait and then you can toss them at the start. Many races donate the discarded clothing to local homeless shelters.)
11. Don't start out too fast! (It's very easy to get caught up in the hoopla of the start and before you know it you're running a minute faster pace than you're supposed to! Hold fast to the pace at which you've trained. You can turn in on later in the race, if you've got extra gas in your tank.)
12. Trust in your training and enjoy yourself!


Molly said...

I've got my first half marathon next Sunday, so this to-do list really helps. I ran 12 miles last weekend, but I'm getting nervous, even thought I know I can do the 13.1. It's definetly about the mindset. And #9, thanks, I didn't know.

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

I always lay out my gear but I don't pin on my bib until I know that I will be standing, I am afraid that it will tear off. Great list..

RunnerDude said...

Hey Molly! Congrats on the upcoming Half! You're going to do great!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Mel! Thanks! Yep, with stretchy fabric, I always put the shirt on, pin on the bib and then take it off and it's ready for race morning. I tend to obsess over "is it crooked?", "is it centered?" LOL! So, I go ahead and get that out of the way. Oh yeah, one time I didn't realize there were no safety pins in my race bag until race morning. That gave me a big panic and a call to the front desk at 4AM. LOL!!

Unknown said...

Dude, I mean, Runner Dude! Great list. You should totally compile all your blog materials and write a book!

I'd like to add to #9. Depending on the weather, I sometimes bring with me an old sweatshirt to stay warm while waiting for the race to start (especially if I get there early). You can throw it away to the side/curb as you approach closer to start time. Most races collect such clothing and donate them.

And finally, run YOUR race and don't get sucked into all the excitement that you go out too fast:)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Thomas! 2 great adds to the list!! Both are very important. Some races like NYC get you at the start really early and in Early November in NYC it can often be quite chilly early in the AM. The actually have huge construction dumpsters at the start that everyone throws there's old sweats into at the start of the race. I believe they donate the collected items to the various homeless shelters like you mentioned. And the second one you mentioned is also great. It's so so so easy to get caught up in the hoopla at the start and go out way too fast. I'm going to add these to the list and make it 12 tips.... Thanks!

ShutUpandRun said...

GREAT advice. When I ran my first marathon I told my husband the night before: "I don't think I trained enough." Meanwhile he had witnessed all of my training and thought I was crazy. Turns out he was right - my training had not only been enough, but it was spot on. We just have to trust ourselves!!

RunnerDude said...

Hey ShutUpandRun!What a great testimony to trusting in your training! Good think your husband was there to remind you.

Mel-2nd Chances said...

great post, it's good to see that it's natural and not just me... I'm so guilty of the self-doubt way of thinking. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Will try to be more positive in my thinking with a 2 tri's and a century ride coming up!