The Path to Marathon Success - Race Day
by Benji Durden


Race Day

Assuming your marathon starts at mid-morning or earlier, eat very little if anything. If you drink coffee, drink less than normal. Some can help get your bowels moving, but too much can give you a sour stomach. Don't drink acidic fruit juices or milk. Even if it's a cold day, drink at least one quart of water in the last hour or 2 before the race. Don't bother with a warm-up run. A few strides and stretching should be enough. If you're too warm, you'll start too fast.

I have purposely not included a pace chart with times you should aim for because I feel you should listen to your body rather than watch your splits. Marathon courses are seldom uniform so that the same effort from one marathon to the next often won't produce the same splits. Additionally, even the best races may have a mile marker in the wrong place, which will throw off your splits. The effort to maintain splits often isn't worth it because you can get into a yo-yo mode of speeding up and slowing down trying to hit a preordained set of splits.

Instead, try for an effort level that is easier than the Thursday tempo runs. For at least the first 10 miles, try to maintain an effort that approximates the sense of being out for a fast long run without working or breathing hard. Notice your pace, but don't worry about hitting target splits exactly. Make certain you drink frequently.

The second 10 miles is transitional. Pay more attention to where you are in the race. Look for runners to catch; after all, this is a race. Between 15 and 18 miles, expect a few tough patches. Remind yourself that these will pass.

At 20 miles, shift your focus to racing; this is where you need to concentrate. But don't go nuts; the last 10 kilometers can seem never-ending if you push too hard. In this final part of the race, it may feel like you're exerting a lot more effort, but you're probably just maintaining the pace you had been running earlier. Whether you maintain or actually begin to run faster, think positively. Even if you are behind the pace you had hoped to run, you'll feel better about your race by finishing strongly rather than struggling to the finish line.


Credits: Text copyright 1996 by Benji Durden

This article has informational purpose and  isn't a substitute for professional advice.

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