Headsweats Ambassador Eric Rayvid shares his thoughts on Spring Marathon Training. You can find more from Eric at his website Dirty Old Sneakers.
It’s March and if you’re running a spring marathon, you’re at the point where you should be at the top of your training arc. Your weekends are probably filled with lots of eating, drinking nothing but water and your favorite hydration solution, never seeing non-runner friends culminating with the church of the Sunday Long Run and a big, fat nap.
Or is that just me?
There are a few things I need to remind myself when I get to this point of my training.
Long runs are more than just runs
Not only are you out there to build endurance but you have an opportunity to test out your nutrition plan. And it’s not just about how you’re going to consume calories during the race (although that is VERY important) but also about what you’re going to eat to fuel up during the week leading up to the race. This is the time to experiment. You’ll learn things like how much is too much (before you upset your stomach during the race), what does and doesn’t work (are you a rice or a pasta carber-upper?) and how much water to consume before and during the race so you don’t have to waste precious minutes waiting in line for the porta-potties on the course.
Remember the old adage, eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty. You may not get a signal from your body to eat or drink before it’s too late so make sure you’ve planned it all out beforehand.
For on-course calories, I eat a gel every six miles for the first 18 and carry a few extra with me as I eat them as needed every two to four miles between 18 and 26.
My strategies on hydration change based on the weather. Case and point, the 2012 Boston Marathon where I was worried about over-hydrating (which can be just as detrimental to a race as under-hydrating). As a rule, I usually plan on hitting every other water station and alternating between water and whatever sports drink they are serving (assuming water stations are every two miles).
Learn to Ignore the Pain
Long runs are also a chance for your body to get used to the hours of being out on the road. Running is hard and it can be hard on your body and it takes some serious brain training to get you ready for the day; long runs help you learn how to ignore the pain.
Remember to Stay Out of Your Head
For me, there’s no better way for me to stay out of my head than listening to music. It relaxes me, keeps me focused and can offer some really good motivation and inspiration at just the right times.
I like to make a really good music mix about a month before my race and fine-tune it leading up to the big day. There’s nothing worse than having to suffer through a song that, during a long run, you can’t figure out why you included it in the first place.
Lastly, be prepared for weird whacky weather. I’ve run spring marathons in weather ranging from snowstorms to 94-degree heat (see Boston 2012). Make sure you switch out your gear during training so you don’t have to use anything new on race day.
Have fun! There’s nothing like a spring marathon to help you get through the winter blues!