Sometimes the journey to the marathon turns out quite different than the expected, but the key is to remain flexible and stick with your modified plan. The goal for your first marathon is to finish upright and with a smile on your face. Here are a few tips on how you can accomplish this:
Don't Try Anything NewIt's so easy to get caught up in the excitement and begin to make drastic changes in your diet, training and equipment this week. The number one rule in marathoning is DON'T TRY ANYTHING NEW on race day (and race week). Every long run has been a dress rehearsal for the big day and by now you should know what to eat, how much to drink and what you're going to wear. The time to make changes and adjustments is during the season. For example, you'll want to avoid drinking more water that usual in the hopes of being well-hydrated or eating a lot more veggies than normal or trying new equipment. When you get tempted to make a change, remember to stick to what your body knows.
Review Your LogTake a few minutes and reflect on all the training sessions you did this season. You are well prepared and race week is all about resting and fueling. The training you are doing this week is to merely keep your legs loose rather than training for the race. Your sessions should be short and light in intensity as you want to be well-rested for race day.
Go With What the Day BringsIt could be warm or cold, rainy or windy or it could be perfect weather. Don't let the things you can't control affect your day. If you come to challenging parts of the race, think your way through. Just as life rolls through hard and easy days, so will the race. At the tough times, set a shorter goal to run or walk to a light pole or another object close to you instead of thinking about the finish. Set a series of shorter finish lines. Keep your head in the game, as it controls your body and will get you to the finish line! This tough time will pass and soon you will have a medal hanging around your neck.
Have a Mental Plan for Race DayTraining is 90 percent physical and 10 percent mental. Race day is the exact opposite. Your body is trained, rested and ready to go. Your mind is in charge on race day. Keep your mind actively engaged in the race and think your way through the course. Review the course map now and break it up into smaller, more digestible pieces. It's easier to stay focused and engaged for shorter periods of time than for several hours. Plus, 26.2 is less daunting if you think in two to three mile increments. Like life, you'll roll through a series of emotions (highs and lows) on race day. Enjoy the highs, and prepare for the lows. Pack a few "power words" in your pocket to keep you focused and your mind actively engaged in the positive. "Strong and Steady" is one of my favorites.