“The hay is in the barn!”
Not sure where this saying comes from but, I had heard it a few times as a child and it is a quote spoken by Bill Bowerman in the movie “Without Limits”
Well what the hell does it mean? Simply put, it is a phrase to remind us that we have done all the training we can do before the big race. We have made all the necessary preparations to ensure our success. We have trained hard and no matter what training was or wasn’t done, it is all behind us now and we must get ready to toe the line and get down to business.
This is particularly true now that we are less than one week away from our respective half/full marathon that will take place next week at Shamrock.
In following with the aforementioned saying, there is absolutely nothing more we can do in regards to training, other than be smart, continue our tapering and let the body rest and recover, prior to our big race. One more track workout, or one more good tempo is not going to get your more fit over the next 7 days. At this point, any hard workout will do nothing but take away from race day.
From a scientific and physiology standpoint, a hard workout takes 10-14 days to be absorbed and adapted to by the body…so, doing anything hard at this point, will be of no use for race day.
Now is the time to consider getting all the other intangibles correct. Over the next 6-7 days, we must get our bodies best prepared to be in our best physical shape before out big race. This includes getting lots of rest, minimizing our physical output and anything that wastes or burns our precious glycogen stores. Now is the time to go a little heavy on the sugars/carbs to ensure that our glycogen tanks are topped off. If you put on a pound or two over these next couple days, no worries…those extra stores of glycogen will come in mighty handy late in the race.
This week, hydrate as much as possible. Do your utmost to get in a gallon of good fluids per day over the next several days. So that you don’t have to chug an entire gallon of water throughout the day, look to get fluids via your foods. Meaning, go heavy on the melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, citrus fruits from Monday-Friday (cut down the fiber the day before the race). Aside from hydration, eat foods high in electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium). Good choices here are lots of green foods, orange and yellow colored fruits/veggies. Try to stay away from processed foods, diuretics and excessive alcohol. If you are a big coffee drinker, try to ensure that you follow your cup of coffee with a cup of infused water (throw lemon/orange in all your water this week to jack up the potassium stores).
Try to ensure you are getting an additional hour or two of sleep per night and take naps throughout the day if you are able to. In regards to “training”, keep the frequency (days of the week) the same as your normal routine…just back off the intensity and duration.
If you are feeling tired and sluggish this week, remember, that’s a good thing!! After weeks and months of an an intense training plan, your body is essentially “detoxing”. You body is wondering what the hell is going on now that you have cut back substantially on your normal routine. This is normal, so relax and enjoy the down time!! This is not the time to panic…I REPEAT, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO PANIC!! You will be just fine!!
In regards to “carb loading” the night before the race….DON’T DO IT!!! Try to stick to the normal foods you would have been eating the night before a hard long run. Trying to cram your body full of carbs a few hours before the race is foolish. It takes your body a good amount of time to absorb and store the glycogen into your muscles. So, eating 6 plates of pasta 8-12 hours before the race will do nothing but leave you lethargic and likely looking for the porta-johns on race morning. Try to make your last BIG meal the Friday before the Sunday race. Then, on Saturday, try to eat generous amounts of smaller portions of slower burning carbs throughout the day.
On race morning, try to get up 3-4 hours before the projected race start time. So if race starts at 8:00am, try to get up by 4-5am. From the moment you wake up, starting trying to consume 150-250 calories of slower burning carbs within the first hour (whatever your typical long run routine was). By the second hour, try to repeat the same 150-250 calorie intake but now with some faster absorbing carbs. Finally, the hour before race start, look to get in 100-200 calories but, try to do this with liquid calories only (your sports drink, Tailwind Nutrition, a juice that you have tested prior to race morning, a shake, etc.).
During the race, try to consume 200-300 calories per hour of, something you have experimented and tested in training. Don’t grab gels and sports drinks from the aid stations, if you haven’t been using them in training. Go with what you know works for you!
Okay, so now with all the nutrition talk out of the way, the next couple things you should pay attention to because, even though they might seem small, they can add up to become serious issues over the course of 13.1/26.2 miles.
TANGENTS – If you have ever taken geometry, you know what tangents are but, how do they apply to running a race? Simply put, you need to take the shortest possible (legally) route during your race. When you are running against the clock, there is no need to add any more distance than necessary. The pics below will capture what “running the tangents” mean.
PACING – This is VERY important!! Throughout all of your previous weeks/months of training, you have been practicing your MRP (Marathon Race Pace)…so, why would you abandoned that pace on race day? When the gun goes off, try to not get caught in all the excitement and hoop-la. If anything, run your first 1-2 miles at a pace of 10-20 seconds slower than goal pace. Use this time to get settled in and relax for the long haul.
Now that you have relaxed and settled into your pace, just try and get comfortable and run by feel. If your race pace is 9:00 per mile and at mile 7 your Garmin says 8:56 or 9:04, don’t fret! You should expect to have a +/- 5-10 seconds per mile fluctuation throughout the race. Whether you are running the full or the half marathon, try to stay loose and relaxed the 1st half of the race. The first half of the race, should actually feel really easy but, in the event that it doesn’t, again, don’t fret!! Sometimes, it takes a few miles to get into a groove..Use the first few miles to find this groove and try to avoid looking at the Garmin every 2 seconds. Look ahead up the road and just try to get into a rythm and relax.
Over the second half of the race, this is where you should require a bit more focus. The first half should of been “fun and games”, the second half however, should be “business”. If you are running with friends/training partners, you will likely be doing less talking over the second half vs. the first half. During these later stage miles, it’s time to find your individual mojo. This is the time you start reciting your mantras, playing mental games with yourself, picking off runners up ahead, singing to yourself or, whatever else it is that works for you.
The second half of the race, particularly the last 1/4 of the race, you will need to exercise the demons! This is when you get to find what you are made of…this is when you get to see how much fight you have..how much guts, how much pain you can tolerate!! Whether you are running a 2:03 marathon or a 7:03 marathon or a 1 hour vs. 4 hour half marathon. If you are racing for your personal best, those last few miles are going to hurt!! Period! No need to sugar coat it! However, with all that said, when you cross that finish line, when you have met your goal, you’ll forget all about those previous shitty miles! You’ll be ecstatic and will somehow have a bit more energy left to celebrate your success, laugh and joke with your friends/training partners, drink beer and talk about how mile 11 or 24 punched you in the face and spit on you, yet you still triumphed!!
So, there you have it!! There are the final instructions (particularly for all you DWEP athletes). As said above, THE HAY IS IN THE BARN!! Nothing left to do but relax the next couple of days, get your mind in the right place, prepare all of your race day gear and then run your 13.1 or 26.2.
Ahead of the game, I just want to say that, it’s been a great training cycle and I have enjoyed working with you all so much! Everyone of you has put in some serious work and you have all come a LONGGGGGG way! I am already so proud of you and I know that you all will do great next Sunday! Just trust the training and believe in yourself!!!
In closing, remember this, YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE!!