There’s been some shocking revelations recently. People are reading the random words I spew forth and following them. Hopefully they’ll also buy the book when it comes out later this year (hint hint). With this in mind, after going through ‘final week dread’ many times here’s something to get you through the maranoia and see you arriving refreshed and ready to go on Sunday when you take a short jog around your marathon.
Miles – Most studies and advice agrees on dropping mileage the week before to 1/3 of the usual mileage. Normally run 30 miles? Then run 10 over a few short runs. Normally run 100 miles? Then you have too much free time go away.
Final week before the marathon – daily check list
All week – try and drink sensibly and eat well. If you hydrate moderately throughout the week you avoid the 9pm “ah no I’ve got a marathon tomorrow, best drink my bodyweight in fluid and spend all night peeing” issue on Saturday night. As you won’t be getting up for early morning runs you’ll likely get more sleep than usual as well. Enjoy it!
Monday – Check your kit items and make sure they’re washed and ready to use. If you have a spare bed and confidence that kids or pets won’t wander off with bits (I have issues with both) then lay it all out. Pin on number (which often includes your chip) if running a civilised marathon that posts them out. Wait to go collect your number if running London or Brighton that don’t believe in post and make you go to an expo.
Tuesday – Often recommended to do a short run at pace. Either a few single miles at marathon pace with a good 6-7 minute gap or sometimes short 1 minute intervals. If you feel fresh and the pace easy then stop and go home. Don’t decide to do a ‘cheeky’ half marathon to see if you can hold the pace.
Cut your toenails. Not too short but you don’t want claws poking out your socks. Do it now so if you do cut too much they have a few days to grow back.
Wednesday – Plan your race. You should have at least an idea what pace or goal time you’re going for. If nothing else you should know the course cut off time and make sure you stay ahead (6:00 or 6:30 for most, longer for London). Websites (Pace band generator) allow you to generate a pace band to wear around wrist personalised to goal time. Print off, cover in tape and use it to check progress on the day.
It’s also useful to give a copy to friends or family that are coming to support and work out where is best to support and what time to expect you. Make sure you include race number and what you’ll be wearing as one sweaty mess in lycra looks a lot like another. Similarly, it can help if they have something to catch your eye like a balloon or sign as spectators can tend to blur together when you’re triumphantly gliding past them/can’t see through tear and snot encrusted eyes. Emphasise to spectators that you may be faster or slower than expected time on race day as adrenaline propels you forward earlier and you fade in later stages.
Tracking on the day with an app is possible for many big events like Brighton and London. Be aware that in London, the sheer volume of people trying to track can either crash the system, or at least swamp bandwidth along the course with so many people updating mobiles.
Thursday – Double check your gels/food. Do you have enough for the full distance? Pack you drop bag and ensure you have everything for the big day (there’s normally a handy checklist on the race instructions). Do you have the family sized tub of Vaseline to lube up like a cross-channel swimmer? If you feel the nervous energy is too much then go for a swim or bike ride to relax, keep active and avoid impact injury.
Friday – Reflect on your training. It will steady your nerves to think of those runs where you went further or faster than you ever believed possible. You’ve done the work so the race is in the bag.
If there’s any light chores you’ve been neglecting in training then doing them might take your mind off. Do: fold and put away 6 months of washing. Don’t: lay a new patio and drop a slab on your foot.
Saturday – As tempting as it might be to lay in bed all day most runners report better results from some light exercise the day before to avoid feeling stale. A couple of miles at a very relaxed pace will limber you up and keep focus. Don’t try and get a parkrun PB.
Do a final check of your gear. Make sure breakfast is planned. SET YOUR ALARM CLOCK. Don’t stress about how much sleep you’re getting. You’re well rested and one night of disturbed sleep is not going to ruin your chances.
Sunday – Get up, put on kit, go run and enjoy the day. This is what the hard work and the missed pints were all for.
Monday – Wake up and wonder why your legs have been filled with concrete. Crawl to the toilet and stagger into work wearing your medal and finishers top. Try and bring all conversation back to your marathon. “That’s a fascinating talk on the challenges of vertical integration of the supply chain Sandra. I’ve overcome some challenges myself recently. Have I mentioned I ran a marathon yesterday?”.