Time to Take Stock and Fine Tune 4 Weeks Before Marathon
If you have been following my training tips, you have completed 2 or 3 long runs of 2 1/2 to 4 hours by now. This is not the point to make major changes in your marathon plan, just assess where you are. My marathon training tips should have you running without a major injury and with most of your aches and pains already dealt with on earlier posts. Now is the time and place you evaluate where you are and need to be to complete a successful marathon. A successful marathon should not mean injuring yourself to get through the race, but to have a good race and not pay for the experience after. Your long runs should be your barometer of where you are and what you need to tweak. Run for your life, longevity and joy, not just for the day.
Lets start with your shoes. This is the most important component in your tool kit to a successful race day and experience. I recommend the shoes, including brand and style, you’ve been doing your long runs in should be your race day shoes. How has the lacing been working for you? If you have had some issues, try How to Lace Running Shoes before and/or during your next long run. These new shoes should have about 20 to 30 miles on them by marathon morning. Never use a new pair on race day, even if it is the same brand you have been using during your long runs. Now or a week from now is a good time to purchase your race day shoes so you can get that one long run and a few other shorter runs in them before you do the marathon. I can’t tell you how often I hear the scenario of out of control blistering due to shoe issues! Don’t be afraid of using too much Vaseline. You can put gobs of it around the perimeters of your toes and and on the tops of your feet to reduce friction.
Fine tune and decide your clothing gear. You can start to assess the weather expected for the day and what works for you. Most marathoners know their gear and what works for them in most conditions already. You know I am a proponent of Running in Compression Gear. If you have an injury, refer to my Kinesiology Tape For Runners and athletic tape tutorials. If you still have any reservations about the effectiveness of Kinesiology taping, consider the 2012 U.S. Master Swimmer’s Rule Book bans its use under the speed enhancement rule. Use the appropriate compression apparel that will cover the area to minimize repetitive stress, tissue overload, increase performance productivity and hasten recovery time. Kinesiology tape and compression apparel in conjunction are very effective tools of mine! I would suggest you first timers even think about all of the body’s friction points, not only in your legs, but in your arms as well, including nipples. On race day preparing by layering and tossing is a tool for warmer days and good wind break effective for wind and rain. If major rain is expected, a second pair of shoes or jacket is helpful at a 2/3 race point by a loved one. The compression gear really helps with warmth in this scenario too.
You should also now be fine tuning your nutritional needs on the long runs. How did you do digesting all the food? Did you get enough in to avoid bonking? I addressed some tools for this in my blog Doing a Long Marathon Training Run. Please remember to work this out on the long runs prior to race day! Did you get enough electrolytes to avoid quad, hamstring or calf cramps? Was the insertion of the ITB near the knee talking to you? If so, maybe my article, Do You Know What Side of the Road You Should Run On? can help you.
Define your fluid needs? What and when did you drink and how did it work? I have been using ionized alkaline water which helps me stay supersaturated, neutralizes the painful lactic and pyruvic acids formed in muscles during exercise and even combats the free radicals caused from intense exercise. Start using this as soon as you can. Try to load your body with this water days prior to the long run and especially prior to race day. Your water demand could be diminished by 25 to 50%! Seems crazy, but it’s just the science. Next, I’ll get into this special water.
You want to fuel your body to not only perform well, but not to pay for it after. You need to do this by fueling your body with supplements to succeed the days and nights before you head out on a long run and on race day. This includes the fish oils (EFAs), white willow bark and/or bioflavonoids for their anti-inflammatory benefits, along with good calcium and magnesium sources for natural muscle relaxation in the evening such as Bone-Up and Epson salt baths.
Did you need more motivation? Were you struggling near the end of your long runs? Pretty environments and LA Marathon will offer entertainment along the way, but sometimes you’ll need a little more help. Now is the time to create your marathon sound track, knowing you’ll use it mostly during the second half of the race. Create the music log that increasingly stimulates and pushes you depending on your music likes to hurdle you to the end. This is a uniquely personal list, but should be thought out. Work on this during your long runs. Practice with it and see how it works. Know your musical equipment. I lost 4 places (from 4th to 8th) by .2 of a second in the Redondo Beach Superbowl 10K fumbling around with my music source during the race. Also, know the battery life of your music equipment.
This is also the time to get your body tuned up as well with chiropractic adjustments, sports massage, physical therapy modalities ultrasound and electrical stimulation and even hyperbaric chamber treatments. The strengthening exercises and stretches I recommend in Ask Dr Paul are now even more important to consider as you wind down your mileage.
Remember to have fun, enjoy the ride and keep running!
Dr. Paul R. Copeskey, D.C., C.C.F.C.