A lot of people have “run a marathon” on their good ol’ bucket list. And if you’re about to check that box, then good for you!
By now, you’ve probably read all you can about race day strategies and tips, and you’re feeling ready. Nothing teaches like experience, so we tapped into friends and fans at runCLTrun for some tried and true advice. We’ve compiled a list of things you may not have thought or read about yet, from people who have been there and done this 26.2 thing before.
Get some rest
The taper is not for the faint of heart. In the two weeks before your marathon, you will run less combined than your 20-mile long run. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Don’t stress, and enjoy the downtime.
Carbo loading– know when to say when
Carbo loading is definitely a thing, you just don’t have to do it the full two weeks before your race. Too much too long can add to some bloat and an uncomfortable feeling. The best time to really hit home with the simple carbs is 2-3 days before your race.
Your gear matters
Don’t go and get a fancy new one. Tried and true clothing is like an old friend: you know it’s not going to hurt, rub, chafe, or itch you. If you do get some new gear, good for you. Just make sure you’ve tested it on some long runs to make sure it measures up.
Embrace the layers
It may be colder at the start than it will be 2 – 3 hours in. Wear clothes that you can easily take off and toss. At the Novant Health Charlotte Marathon start, look for Ally’s collection bins to deposit your start line layers. Cast-off clothes will be donated to RunningWorks. Some people find gloves and arm warmers are all they need, and those are easily stashed in a waistband or shoved into a pocket.
Stick with the plan (and have a plan)
Everyone feels like they’re going to break the 2-hour world record at the beginning. The biggest mistake beginners and experienced runners alike make is starting out too fast. Don’t do it! Stick with your plan, even in the earliest stages when you’re feeling energized. You’ll be glad when you don’t feel so spry that you stayed within your pace range from the start.
It’s a good idea to have different levels of goals. An “A” goal would be your very best race if all the stars align. A “B” goal would be the step down with which you would still be really happy. A “C” goal may be to just keep moving forward or not to walk. At the end of the day, everyone’s goal should be simply to get across that finish line with a smile.
Don’t drink the Kool-Aid
Literally. There may be people and parties along the route offering you more than Gatorade and bananas at their cheer stations. Unless you’ve ingested a shot of whiskey, sips of beer, or homemade cookies during your training runs, you may not want to do it at mile 22.
Do take the high fives
Hopefully, you’ll have some supporters out there on the course. Know where you’re planning on seeing them and look for them at those specific points. It’s much easier for you to spot them than it is for them to pick you out of hundreds of runners.
Know that it’s not always going to feel easy
If it was easy, everyone would do it. Make sure you are prepared for the mental as well as physical lows you may feel. It helps to have a mantra or something you can tell yourself when you want to just stop. Some dedicate miles to loved ones or causes. Some repeat a motivational phrase that will help keep them focused on the goal, not the discomfort.
Enjoy your experience
All 26.2 miles of it! That’s what you trained for. That’s what you’re going to run. You CAN do this!