Marathon Mayhem…what to do (and NOT do) the week before a big race!
It’s the week before your big race: the fall marathon (or maybe half marathon) you’ve been training for since Memorial Day. You’ve suffered through the scorching summer heat on runs where you thought the soles of your shoes would surely melt. You’ve sacrificed late nights out to the bar with friends so you could get your long run in at 6 a.m. the next morning. You haven’t had a single can of Coke in months, and the word donut is no longer in your vocabulary. All the work has been done, right? Well, in some ways yes and others no. For the last couple months, you’ve been making changes to your body’s physiology that has made it a more finely tuned machine. At this point, there is nothing you can do in regards to running that can help you. Hurt you, yes. Help you, no. The week before the race is just as important, if not more important, as any other week of training, but for different reasons. Here are some tips to help you through the week and get you to the finish line.
1. Don’t change your routine-the week before the race is not the time for experimentation. Maintain the diet you have been on for the last few months. Now is not the time to go try the new Double Bacon Thick Burger at Hardee’s. Continue eating well-balanced meals. Increasing your carbohydrate intake (aka Carb Loading) is okay to do, but 5 rounds of the all-u-can eat pasta at Olive Garden is discouraged. If you’ve been doing morning runs, keep doing morning runs. If you’ve been sleeping 7 hours a night, getting 10 hours of sleep the week leading up to the race may actually make you more tired the morning of the race.
2. Mental preparation takes precedence over physical preparation-Your body is ready for the race. But, what about your mind? You’re getting ready to run 26.2 miles! You’re going to need some mental toughness (especially after mile 20). Practice positive thinking AT ALL TIMES! Repeatedly tell yourself things like “I can do this!”, or “I feel incredible!” Visualize in your mind how you want the race to play out. I always write my goals on a piece of paper, being as specific as possible. Writing down your plan, and showing it to others, holds you accountable for your actions on race day. It’s also something fun to look back on after the race. It’s always good to remember why you’re doing this race, or maybe who you’re doing it for. If it was a goal of yours to lose weight and simply complete the marathon, look at how far you’ve come. If you’re running in memory of a loved one who’s sick or has passed away, remember you’re doing this for him or her.
3. Take care of your feet-What kind of podiatry blog would this be without mentioning the part of your body that will be taking the pounding! Trim your toenails back a little bit to avoid them from cutting the skin of the neighboring toes or hitting the front of your shoe. Black toenails are out of style now that Halloween is over! It may sound like a nice reward for all your hard work to get a nice pedicure before the race. I would recommend holding off until afterwards because you’ll need those calluses for the 26.2. Wear moisture wicking socks for the race. Brands like Wright, Features, Nike, and Asics make synthetic socks that pull moisture away from your feet to prevent blisters. Putting a little bit of foot powder on your feet will also help soak up some extra moisture (But don’t use it if you have any open wounds. Cover those up with a bandage) DO NOT CHANGE YOUR SHOES THE WEEK BEFORE OR THE DAY OF THE MARATHON! Shoes definitely have a break-in period where your feet get used to their new home. Changing shoes can lead to hazardous consequences on race day.
4. Drink water; Drink water; Drink water -Dehydration is probably the number one reason people never get to the finish line. On race day, you are a runner, not a hospital patient! Follow the 8 x 8 rule. 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water a day. If you’ve forgotten to drink an adequate amount of water all week, you cannot make up for lost time by chugging a bunch the night before the race. Be consistent with your fluid intake.