Training/Race Tips and Advice

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Training/Race Tips and Advice

This post was updated on .
I am starting this thread as one place to put advice that gets posted on the site.  I consolidated what was already out there on this post, as new things pop up I'll edit this.  This will make it easier in the future when someone is wondering, "what did so-and-so recommend for pre-marathon meals" or whatever.


DOs and DON'Ts (courtesy of Argenta)
1.  DO arrive early so that you will have enough time to take care of basic needs.  You want to be the person in the start corral laughing at the people still in the porta potty line.  Not vice versa.
2.  DO learn to whistle loudly.  You never know when you may need to get someones attention.  Thanks John, that was the best part of the marathon!!
3.  If you want to have a fun time at the marathon DO make a friend and have a 26.2 mile party.  If your friend is too fast...say a "Johnny Lightning" of sorts, just find another.  You have over 10,000 to choose from.    
4.  DON'T try and run a marathon on empty.  Eat before, during and after you run. My new friend Karen did not finish her marathon because of this mistake.  I walked with her, shared my energy beans, and held Karen up for close to 5 miles before I had to leave her with the EMT.  If you start on empty, you will not finish.
5.  DO bring extra GU, Sports Beans, etc.  Sometimes races will run out of these items.  It is better to be safe than sorry.
6.  DO pump yourself up.  Tell yourself you are having fun.  You will get tired, but you don't have to succumb to it.  Positive talk will go a long way.
7.  DON'T stress about time.  If you are having fun, the rest will come. I was on pace for a 4:02 finish at the Akron half.  I slowed around mile 17 to help Karen and still finished with a PR.  Time is great, but it is not everything.
8.  DON"T blow your nose before a photo op.  A smile makes for a better picture.
9.  Lastly, DO celebrate all your hard work. You deserve it.

General Tips (courtesy of Joe T.)
1.  Do not wear new clothing you haven't ran in and washed before.
2.  Slather on Vaseline or Body Glide anwhere you may have rubbing of skin on skin or clothing and skin.  Although you should have figured this out by now on your long runs.
3.  Guys - bandaids over the nipples for long runs (they also sell special items for this purpose) or you may end up with bloody streaks down your shirt.  (Check out any full, half or the Crim for finishers that will give you examples.)
3.  Double knot your shoes.
4.  Take plenty of water during the race, it's okay to walk the water stops, it doesn't cost much time and the water benefit will make up for it anyway.
5.  Get a lot of sleep 2 and 3 nights before the race because you will not sleep well the night before.
6.  Be mindful of your pace early in the race, seek out pace groups to help if necessary.  It is very easy to get caught up in the emotion and excitement and start out way too fast.
7.  Don't look at your watch and stop it as you hit the finish line, it will ruin your finishing photo!
8.  When you get one of those warming foil blankets at the finish of a full or half marathon, bring it home.  Then bring it to a future cold weather race and wear it before the race, pitch it when you start.
9.  Never pass an unoccupied porta-potty without using it, whether you have to or not.  (Courtesy of Jeff Stuart)
10. Always knock on the porta-potty, regardless of what color the latch is showing.  (Courtesy of Mike Fitzgerald who has been burned more than once)

Tips/Advice from Tom Cameron
1. You should run and race 2 years before beginning a marathon training program.  It gives the body time to adapt and get some races under your belt so you know how to race.
2. I work with an 84 day training period, with 2 weeks rest period.  If day 84 is the marathon, you will peak on marathon day.
3. Day 59 you are overtrained!  You don't want to get out of bed, or run, and you are GROUCHIE!!!  You're overtrained.  Take 5 days off and resume training.  Don't, and you'll get sick or injured.  Science, not my invention.
4. Lay out a schedule and be flexible.  If you miss a day it won't hurt anything.  Don't make it up on Saturday with a 17 miler.
5. Alternate hard, easy days.
7. After long runs, run cold water on your legs. Gets the lactic acid out and legs won't ache.
8. Carry water and stay hydrated.
9. You will burn up all you're blood sugar in 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Use something for sugar.  GU, Gatorade, Poweraid.  Wash GU down with water, water down sports drinks.  Ideal solution is 6% sugar.  It's 25% out of the bottle and can upset your system.
10. Start slow, warm up, and stretch 1 1/2 to 2 miles.  Do work out, cooldown, and stretch again.
11. If you are doing a road race, you can't do all your training on trails!  Legs won't be hard enough.  Get off trails the last month.
12. Taper 3 or 4 weeks.  Last 20 miler 3 weeks out.  It takes 3 to 4 weeks for training affect to show up.
13. It takes an hour for fluid to get into system, drink early.
14. Wear a hat and shirt in the sun.
15. Lots of vaseline in key spots.
16. Running with someone on long runs is easier.
17. Nutrition and sleep are important to marathon training.  Try for 8 hours of sleep.
18. Carbs dominate the diet with protein and fat important but less percentage wise.  Tip, heavy training burns up potassium.  Bananas are the best way to get potassium in the system.

Hydration (from Runner's Reward)
Drink before running. Drink adequately and drink often up until two hours before the start.  Excess body water will be passed as urine before you start to run.  Two hours before, however, stop drinking otherwise you'll be ducking into the bushes.

Eating before the marathon (courtesty of John Hodgson)

Last minute tips (courtesty of John Hodgson)

Cool Weather Race  (courtesy of Joe T.)
1.  You will warm up during the race.  Bring throw away clothes, an old long sleeve shirt, old sweatpants if necessary.  As soon as you start you won't need them (or maybe after a couple of miles).  Pick some cheap stuff up at The Salvation Army if necessary.
2.  Some people wear garbage bags with holes for your head and arms, but I find those very uncomfortable.  These are typically ditched right at the start.

Consider taking baby aspirin (courtesy of Deb B.)
I am not a doctor, so obviously, use your own judgement and the advice of your doctor.  This advice has been in Runner's World and also contained in my Boston and NYC marathon packets.

This is recommended for active, healthy people that have NO issues.  I don't want to misquote, so I just cut and pasted the article from Runners World.....if you choose to do this, the St. John's "baby" aspirin is what you need.  Think, runners that went down in Detroit....Anyway, you can get this from Runner's World online and the follow-up as it is:

My good friend, Dr. Arthur Siegel, at the Boston Marathon, has reported at recent medical meetings that there is evidence of platelet activation in asymptomatic marathon runners during races, documenting an enhanced risk for intravascular thrombosis. (In plain English: heart attack, or dysrhythmia.)

This comes from an exquisite study in 2006, which you may want to read. (Kratz A, Wood MJ, Siegel AJ, Hiers JR, VanCott EM.  Effects of marathon running on platelet activation markers.  Direct evidence for in vivo platelet activation.  Am J Clin Pathol 2006; 125:296- 300) You, Geoffrey, along with thousands of others are considered asymptomatic (without symptoms and with normal exams). This finding, although only in one study, makes us all wonder whether marathon running can be dangerous and can we decrease the risk in any way. More studies are being done.

Just published in 2009 was:  U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Aspirin for prevention of cardiovascular disease: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. (Ann Intern Med. 17 March 2009; 150(6):396-404.)  This task force strongly recommends the prophylactic use of aspirin for the primary prevention of acute cardiovascular disease in men age 45 to 79 and women age 50 to 79.  Aspirin prophylaxis for marathon runners is a NO BRAINER that every cardiologist I have talked to would enthusiastically endorse.

Given the above, the International Marathon Medical Directors began discussion about a worldwide recommendation in March in Barcelona. A final statement is due in November 2009. In the meantime, I have begun to recommend to all my runners to take a baby aspirin daily. It certainly could not hurt unless you have a contraindication to aspirin (as always, please consult with your physician before regularly taking any medicine, even something over-the-counter). Together, I hope we shall have at least begun a counter-offensive against sudden cardiac death during races.

 Running in the Heat (from Jen Keuten) 
When Clint ran the US World Championships a few years back they had Dr. Martin come up with how much time to add in heat. Here was his findings that he gave the USA team:
54 degrees - 0
61 degrees - add 1 min. to your overall time
68 degrees - add 2 min
75 degrees - add 3 mins
83 degrees - add 4 mins
89 degrees - add 5 mins

<note from Joe T. - these times are for the elite runner, the rest of us you should at least double those times>

So for those of you feeling the heat lately on your runs, please don't get discouraged just remember that your runs will be a bit slower. Remember to hydrated before, during and after your runs. It is not uncommon to lose 5-8lbs on one run. So if you really want to keep on it, weigh yourself before and after the run to see what you lost during the run. You should replenish with 16-20oz on water per lb lost on the run. For all those math people out there the formula to use to see how much to drink per day is:

Body weight (in pounds) / 2 = Daily Fluid Needs in Ounces

Remember also you need more than just water you need electrolytes.

 Winter Running 

General tips and advice from Argenta and Runner's World
1.  Keep your feet warm and dry.  Run in shoes with the least amount of mesh.  Water-proof or water-resistant shoes help a lot.  Wear socks that wick moisture from away from your feet.  Try to find plowed roads/trails if possible, sometimes hard to do!
2.  What to wear?  Dress as if it is about 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature.  You should be slightly cool when you start.  Even if it gets to 20 degrees or below you can get outside--I use 2 tops (jacket over long sleeve base layer) and 2 bottoms (running pants over tights).  Below 40 degrees you will probably want gloves or mittens and a hat.  Many new runners also wonder if running clothes are actually necessary.  Don’t let the lack of running apparel stop you from running, but the wicking benefit will help keep you dryer and warmer.  (Joe comment - for me above 30 degrees does not require a hat or gloves, and 2 bottoms are too warm unless it is near 0.  But that's an individual preference.)
3.  Warm up inside.  Run up and down stairs or jump rope.  Wait in your car if you are meeting a group so you don’t get cold waiting outside.
4.  Wind can cool you off as well.  If possible finish with the wind at your back, or break your run into smaller segments running into the wind for 10 minutes, with for 10 minutes, repeating as needed.  Stay inside if the wind chill drops below -20 degrees.
5.  Don’t worry about speed.  Slippery roads and cold weather will slow you down a bit.  Also, doing a speed workout in very cold weather can irritate your lungs.  Stick with long, slow runs.

And here’s some good news:  running can boost your immunity, even running in cold weather.  This holds true for 30-75 minutes of moderate activity.  Longer or more intense workouts can give you a short-term decrease in immunity.  And you won’t get a cold simply from being in the cold--there needs to be exposure to a virus or bacteria.

One way to help prevent infections after longer/harder runs is to ingest more carbohydrates.  Eat or drink carbs before, during and after runs (the dip in carbs about 90 minutes into a workout plays a large role in allowing access for bad bugs).  Keeping your hands clean and staying away from illness if you can, and getting good rest is also important.

Problem with cold feet (courtesy of Jeff Stuart)
Try taping duct tape over the mesh of your shoes.  Keeps out cold and moisture (but on the other hand, doesn't allow the sweat to evaporate).

At what temp do we call off a winter run? (courtesy of Sue S.)
1. Run is cancelled if the wind chill is below 0.
2. Have a plan B.  In other words if we can't meet at a given spot due to weather, an indoor option is available.
3. Runs need to be cancelled 1 hour before the scheduled meeting time.  Save some drive time for all our long distance members.  No one wants to drive for 45 minutes and find out the run has been cancelled.  Please post cancellation on Forum, Facebook and/or direct email.

1. When you run a full or half and they give out those warming foil blankets at the finish, keep yours.  Then bring it to a future cold weather race and wear it before the race, pitch it when you start.