After the euphoria of doing the long run last week and basically surviving, I have felt much more positive about the upcoming race. Visions of crossing the finish line to thunderous applause, tears running down my cheeks, being handed my medal from the great Mo himself, all with a brass band accompaniment may have been flying around my head. That’s how it’s going to go, right?
A few of the other running blogs that I read have featured recaps of races which didn’t go well. Races where expectations weren’t met, but instead these runners battled on with injury and increasing mental anxiety as they realised their race plans were shot.
This has made me think a lot about my own race day: to not be so foolish to think that one successful 21 mile run makes a successful marathon! Luckily, I’ve never experienced The Wall, or become injured during a race which has negatively impacted my results (touch wood. It feels a bit dangerous thinking that, let alone writing it!).
Gilly and I were talking strategies this week. It seems that one sure-fire way of screwing up your chances of a good time is to start out too fast. ‘Banking a few miles’ at the start is tempting – especially as you’re on a race-day adrenaline high with taper-fresh legs – but starting out fast means that your body will use up its glycogen stores much faster and you’ll have a faster lactic acid build up.
It’s likely that you’ll run out of energy faster, making the last part of your race much more challenging than it needs to be. Many a runner will tell you how hard that final 6 miles are, and I’ve heard stories of the strongest runners aiming for great times who want to quit by mile 22.
I read online that runners also tend to base their pacing on the most optimistic of situations, forgetting about weather, tiredness, your mental strength etc. One piece of advice is to be realistic in your pace setting: work out the absolute best you can do, and from that point, consider what a realistic pace would be for you during that particular run, taking into account all of the variables which might affect it.
For example: I am literally about to head out for another long run this morning. It’s really rainy outside, I am trying out my new running belt, I am tired, and my feet are still in shock from last week’s run. So I am not expecting the same pace as last week, but I am expecting much more of a mental commitment over the next three hours. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: thank goodness for Beyonce.
On the day, my aim is to start steady, and run in a range which I’ve worked out would be suitable. If it doesn’t go to plan, I hope I’ll have the strength to dig deep and carry on, enjoying the event for what it is rather than beating myself up – which ultimately only creates more work!
And finally – my family arrived from Sydney yesterday. It has been great to see them all, but I have been getting some ribbing over my confession that I only discovered Radiohead recently. It’s not like I hadn’t heard of them before, it’s just they were a little too…. whiny for my chirpy 14-year-old self. And anyway, I’ve been listening to them for at least three years now, so … there you go. No further credentials required. 😉