Wow, we are less than 5 weeks from race day 2017. That means we have two long runs left in training before the taper. All your training to this point has you ready to complete these last long tests and will propel you to the finish line on April 29. One of the great things about knowing you have the fitness to complete the mileage is that you can focus on the rest of your race preparations during these final weeks. Practicing everything from your meal the night before, morning routine, race day outfit, shoes, and your in-race nutrition will give you time to adjust anything that doesn’t quite work. The old mantra “nothing new on race day” seems played out, but it’s used so frequently for a reason. Many a race has gone south because runners have decided to try new shoes or the newest gel pack and had it backfire at mile 9. Honestly, the very best thing you can do for yourself now is to go through everything as you would on race week/day as a trial run.
The easiest way to derail a race is to have last night’s dinner catch up with you on course. Avoiding it however is simple, try it now! Pasta dinners are the go to, but may not be right for you. Some may have iron stomachs and can handle non-traditional meals that are spicy or greasy, but most cannot. Generally, you want easily digestible carbs and lean protein the night before a long run or race. My biggest meal is lunch the day before a race, rather than dinner. Dinner for me is just to top off my stores and avoid hunger overnight. Then I focus on getting breakfast in 2-3 hours before the gun goes off, again something with easily digestible and accessible carbs.
In addition to your pre-race meals, you want to start consuming some nutrition during your workouts. If you are going to be running or walking for more than 60 minutes, you’ll need some simple carbohydrates like sports drink or gels on the course. There is a wide spectrum of options however, from all liquid to “real food” like dates or bananas. Gels, chews, chomps, waffles etc. are all good choices but are very different both in how you intake them and how your body may handle them. I know several people who cannot STAND the consistency of gels but will happily chew on a waffle mid-run. Use this weekend’s long run to test one of the options and adjust as necessary. Lots more on eating on the run here.
Gear – clothing, shoes, socks, watches
The post race shower doesn’t lie. No matter how much you might adore that cute purple running skirt and black singlet, if it chafes you the shower will tell all! Better to find out now that something bothers you. You can always add extra Body Glide or go back to your favorite old outfit! This is even more important with your footwear. Obviously, you want your race shoes to have as much life left on them as possible but that does not mean taking them out of the box and immediately racing. Ideally, race shoes should have about 40 miles on them. You want to get a couple shorter workouts in, a long run, and a quality run (speedwork) if you do those. That combination gives you a true feel for the shoes in many situations but still leaves them with plenty of nice cushioning to treat your feet on race day.
Lastly, learn how to use your watch now. Practice, practice, practice with it until you can do it almost without looking. Also, make sure you know where your charger is and do any updates required. If I had a dollar for all the times I hear about a watch causing race day stress, I’d be running in Hawaii by now. Please please learn your watch and take care of it if it is important to you in a race.
Enjoy and Relax
The last month of training is so amazing because you are fit and ready. You are just refining your training to take full advantage of that fitness. Take time to enjoy this month. Look around and take it all in. This journey is yours and every single one is special. It doesn’t matter if this is your first race ever or your 100th; every race season is unique and incredible. The last week will likely be a blur of activity, so enjoy these last several weeks of training! The weather even seems to be cooperating for us too. See you all on April 29th! – Happy Training!
It’s race week. All your hard work is behind you and it’s time for the party to begin! Sure there will be nerves but that’s good, it means you have worked hard for something and care about the result. One question that comes up on race week is how to pace and should I use a pacer? The answers are all over the map but there a few tried and true approaches.
Don’t Start Too Fast
No matter what your planned race pace is, don’t hammer that first mile or two. If you are properly trained and tapered it is way too easy to blast through the first couple miles and then ruin your chances for a good day. Take it easy initially. Either start off right on pace or a few seconds per mile slower than your planned race pace. You SHOULD feel good in the first few miles but hold off on trying to set the world on fire. If you are still feeling like you have a lot in the tank come mile 8 or 10, by all means go for it. Just not in mile 2.
We have wave starts so everyone should find room to run quickly, but there is still a little bit of congestion in that first mile or so. Don’t feel the need to weave in and out of all the runners ahead of you. It takes too much energy and really doesn’t do much for your time. Take the opportunity to relax your shoulders and breathe. Once the field opens up a bit find your pace and just settle in.
Pacers – The Fleet Feet MIT Pace Team
The pacers are out on the course for you. They are experienced runners, many of whom pace or coach for Marathoner in Training throughout the year. It is by volunteer only so they are there just to share their love of running with YOU! Each of them will hold a consistent pace throughout and will get you to the finish right on time. The pace teams start at 8 min/mile for the half and 8:25 min/mile for the quarter and go to 15:16 min/mile. They will be in the proper corral for the finish times associated with their paces. Please take the time to talk to them if you want to know what their plans are for the race, such as how they will handle water stops.
Should I run with a Pacer?
While pacers are not miracle workers, they can make pacing a race easier for you. If you are trained and ready for a given pace, they will help you get through the race without the worry of nailing every mile split. Most have 13.1+ miles worth of stories and laughs to share, so they will entertain you as well. They are there to encourage, motivate, cheer, and of course pace. They will have pace signs with their planned finish times.
If you want more information on the pace team, check them out here.
Enjoy Race Day
However you choose to get from the start line to the finish, whether it is on your own, with a group of friends, or with new found friends and the MIT Pace Team enjoy your day. Cap City is set up to be a HUGE party. We are here to celebrate YOU. It is a huge honor to be part of your journey and we cannot wait to welcome you to the finish line.
See you on Race Day! Happy Training (and tapering) – Coach Aimee