We have a full post on the Marathon Nation site about building a race plan, including a link to download a FREE PDF planner. Learn more here.
3. Know Your Worst Case Scenario
No race is perfect. And no race is without a story. Meet a runner at the marathon finish and they'll have a 3+ hour story about their race. And just like any story, the main character (that's you) will have ups and downs. The difference here is that you can re-write the story before the final chapter. By planning for the worst case, you'll be ready to handle almost anything that can happen.
The easiest way to do this is to mentally rehearse your race, and then reviewing key points of divergence where things can go wrong: packing the car, tying your shoes, running the first mile, hitting an aid station, etc. Exploring these dark areas isn't a prelude to disaster; it's a means of being prepared. Knowing to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency is one thing, but studies have shown that people who have actually picked up a phone and pretended to dial (like kids) are far more likely to both respond (at all) and much faster than anyone else.
Here are some worst case scenarios to think of. As you go through the list, think of how you'd deal with each one.
- You forget your timing chip/band.
- Your watch batteries die.
- You have to pee and you are stuck in a race corral and can't move.
- You just missed a critical aid station.
- The temps have gone way up and you are in a long-sleeve shirt.
- You are running well but your heart rate is through the roof.
- You hit halfway but are 5 minutes off your time goals.
- You have a debilitating cramp in your ________.
- You are hitting the wall; your body wants to know why it should go on. You say _____________.
- You are so nervous you can't eat breakfast.
Good luck and have fun out there. Remember that when all else fails, a good smile goes a long way.