Lessons Learned, Numero Tres

SF Marathon, Mile 18-ish
SF Marathon, Mile 18-ish

A few quick lessons learned from my latest marathon, which was really not a very good run, all for self-inflicted reasons. Some of my other running posts are here, herehere, and here.

These are all the things I learned not to do through my personal experience of making a mistake on each item below. If nothing else, there might be a few amusing anecdotes in here; for me it’s a living list to read through again at a later time.

1. Don’t enter the race fatigued.

The week of, you really do need to bank up the sleep. I couldn’t have changed it around anyways, as I had been on the road for most of the month prior to the marathon including a long Asia trip. If you can regulate your sleep when you travel you might be in good shape. I didn’t, and missed at least several nights during the week of the run. This is a straightforward fix.

2. Don’t forget to read your list.

Make a marathon check list, and READ IT in the morning. Sounds obvious. But, I was overly confident the morning of, grabbed my stuff, and went. I forgot several important things, perhaps most importantly I forgot rule number one from one of my earlier marathons. Tape your nipples. Which leads me to lesson number three.

3. Don’t try to be clever if you forget rule number one.

By “clever” I mean do not find packing tape at the starting line and tape your nipples. Well, that part might be okay. But if you do that do not then, at mile 13, because you’re wondering how the pictures are going to look with packing tape across your chest underneath your running shirt, take the tape off and run the remaining 13 miles with your chest that has remaining residue that’s stickier than the floor of a U-haul rental center. There are two types of people in the world. Those who have had that experience…and those who haven’t.

4. Don’t do anything new on marathon day.

Everyone says this. It seems SO LOGICAL. It should be an easy rule to follow, you know, like along the lines of “Don’t play out in the street” and “Keep your hand out of the blender.” But then you run two marathons in half a year and you’re a pro and suddenly you’re all like “I got this” and the best practices don’t apply any longer and you stick your hand in the blender. For this latest race I bought new shoes on the day of the race because going into SF Marathon I decided to drop to the half, and I brought a different type of training running shoe to run in. At check in I decided to run the full, and needed shoes. I also bought new Yurbuds, which I absolutely love. The shoes were totally not broken in, and this was just a bad decision. The Yurbuds were the wrong size, and fell out of my ears continuously. I must’ve put them back in 300 times during the run.

5. Don’t under train.

Perhaps obvious, but if you want to finish, and finish comfortably, you really have to put the miles in. I was reminded of this on my last marathon, thinking that despite very little training 45-days prior it would be easy as I’ve been CrossFitting more, lost another few % bodyfat, etc. But, nothing works like putting miles on your legs; at mile 17 or 18 your legs just don’t care how much you’ve been crossfitting, or how good the Kale nutribullet was from three days ago. Check out great programs from Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, and the Hansen Method are all winners. I’ve just bought the book and am training using Hansen for Chicago, my goal is to run a sub 3:30 which for me would be quite fast–but I have a TON of training to be able to get close to this and not a lot of time. Miles on the legs matter. Get your miles in.

6. Don’t go out too fast.

Marathoners say “run reverse splits” which is basically translates into “run the second half faster than the first half.” It is good advice. Everyone generally feels pretty good, if not amazing, the first few miles. Crowd energy, music, glycogen loading, fresh legs…it’s all a recipe for going out too fast. And remember that the first few miles you’re in a heat that is following a way-faster heat, so say you’re targeting to runs sub-nine minute miles then early on it’s easy to run those first few miles in the seven’s or even six’s Like ridic easy. Don’t do it. Save some gas.

7. Finally, don’t forget to fuel your muscles.

Glycogen load big time during the week. If you’re a Paleo eater you can still do this, sweet potatoes are perfect. And eat clean days before, and on the morning of make sure you’re consuming what you generally do prior to your longer runs (I usually take SFH pre-race with water, a banana with Justin’s honey-almond butter and drink a few low calorie G2 Gatorades with a several Nuun tabs dropped in each). For your nightly meal before, you could try something like my dinner before the SF marathon. I had fish tacos. Two beers. And some Tequila (it came with the beer). This will not go down as one of my better pre-marathon meals. And I forgot to glycogen load race morning by taking my GU Energy Gel’s 30-minutes pre-race or at mile five. By the time I took my first GU gel at mile 12 it was too late, and I couldn’t catch up on fueling my muscles, which became very–very–cranky around mile 15.



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