Good luck all the marathoners and half marathoners this weekend in Long Beach. These are some of my best race day tips and strategies (with some prayers thrown in for you at the end…) Miss you all and love you dearly.
These are some of my best race day philosophies.
1. Think Positive. You’re better trained than any other marathon group out there. You’ve done these ridiculously long runs. You’ve practiced yoga and you use the ChiRunning® techniques
So tell yourself, “I’m ready. I’m in better shape than I have been in a long time.” I can tell by the pants that keep falling from my waist.
You’ve done awesome. All of you. Go to than mirror the night before and the morning before look yourself in the eyes and say “I’m READY!”
2. Kill the ANT’s (Automatic Negative Thoughts). These little critters pop up the night before or even on your run. The little bastards sound like…
“I didn’t train enough.” “I didn’t do enough speed work.” “My leg is hurting.” You get the drift.
When you hear these critters, bust out the RAID and spray them to oblivion. Replace themwith their hated cousins. APT’s. (Automatic Positive Thoughts)…
“I’m well trained.” “I did great speed, hill and interval workouts.” “My leg feels great considering I’ve already run 18 miles.”
3. Keep your posture good on the race. Solid core, keep that waistband level, and that spine straight.
No hunching!!! You will lose lung capacity and you certainly don’t want to come across the finish line looking like The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Negative style points for that.
4. Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! In the beginning of the race. Middle of the race. When you’re tired. When you’re not tired. The last few miles. Count breaths if need be. I like to pick a number like 50 then work up to that with heavy exhales counting each one. This keeps my mind off you know what….
5. Be sure to interact with the crowd. Thousands will be there cheering you on. Yes you. There for you. There to clap and inspire you. They got up on a Sunday morning, dealt with the parkingthe crowd, the weather, all that to see you. So be sure to smile at them. Wave at them. Pump your fist in the air. Give them a big “Wahoo.” Then watch the magic that happens.
6. Eat during the race. Anything that will give you some fuel. As Coach Steve says, “Eat early, eat often.”
YOU MUST EAT EVERY 30 MINUTES OUT THERE…GOO, CLIFF BLOC, POWERBAR…SOMETHING.
7. Use Electrolytes. Your body will need them to keep the muscles firing.
Supplement with an electrolyte tablet or Prolytes PLUS Sportsdrink every 30 minutes.
8. Inspire the other runners. Being part of the Beach Runners, you will be passing many runners especially the last 6 miles. So don’t just pass them without saying anything like you have a better place to go.
Tell them, “Good Running!” “You’re kicking ass!” “You’re my hero” “Keep up the good work.” “Looking strong.”
And, maybe, just maybe, they might believe you. And you’ve helped them in your little way. Because running a marathon is not just about you. It’s about all of us working together on the course to help one another finish.
9. Don’t worry about your time. Go out and run your race. Let me repeat that.
Go out and run YOUR race. Run at a pace comfortable for you. Not the guy in fancy running shorts ahead of you. Or the 80 year old woman surging ahead of you. Run a nice comfortable pace the first half of the run, then speed it up gradually on the last part of the run.
Run the last few miles in style. A smile on your face. Joy in your heart. Tears in your eyes.
What time you get is what time you get. Time is a function of your training and a deeper mystical equation I just don’t get and don’t worry too much about. Hey didn’t Einstein say it was all relative anyway.
BE CAREFUL OF CROWD SURGE. LET THE CROWD GET AHEAD OF YOU THE FIRST 5-10 MILES.
Too many people seriously hurt themselves running for time. Everything Steve and I have taught you is about running at a pace comfortable for you. Then gradually increasing it through your lean. So relax, run well, and you’ll have a “great time.”
10. Connect to your higher power. This is where I get a little preachy.
Pray the night the night you read this. Pray the next morning. Pray the night before the race. Pray the morning of. Pray with some fellow runners.
Pray on mile 20 when you’re knackered. Or meditate, or say a sutra, or a koan, or whatever you do to connect to forces greater than you. Mainly, because, you’ll need it. There will be a point, somewhere in the race, where you feel you can’t go on. That your body is kaput.
That’s when you reach for something deeper. Another source of strength. And trust me, there are levels of energy out there that can help us accomplish anything. Just by asking with all your heart, a source of strength will come flowing to you making you want to dance and laugh with it as you pronuce towards your goal.
So spend a little time the day before doing something spiritual. A walk. Watching the birds. Where you can just listen and have your own private conversation with your higher power.
Tell it thanks. Thanks for your health. For the weather. For the team you trained with. For the new friends you have. For your new waistline. For all the people that believed in you. For the strength to finish those long training runs.
And then just listen. Watch for a sign. For me often it is the birds.
Then on the run, when I see the birds I get to go back to that place, that heaven on Earth, and can forget about any physical limitation I might be feeling or suffering from.
Alright, I’m getting carried away here, but do spend some quiet time the next few days praying and listening.
It will reward you race day.
10. Run with Joy. Remember the wild strawberry story.
Run with your heart out. Open your heart on Sunday. Feel the excitement of the starting line. The adrenaline of the first few miles. The fatigue of miles 10-20. The exhaustion of miles 20-26. The exuberance of the finish line.
Then cheer on the rest of your team. Give out as many hugs as you can. Tell them all what they have meant to you. How great the conversations were. How silly the coaches were. How fantastic the crowd was.
Because after Sunday who knows when we’ll all see one another again. So share those gratitudes and feelings
that day. Don’t wait.
I grew from meeting all of you. Hearing your stories. And seeing what I wonderful group of people all of you are.
Helping in whatever way I could to improve your technique, tell you to slow down, give you a minute to just chill and center yourself, sharing my silly rambling writing, hoping that somehow just one of you might find a little phrase that could get you to go just another mile longer.
Thank you so much for coming out being a part of this program and making it the special, and I mean really special journey it has been.
You’ve gotten fast and strong. More than you know. So go out and have the race of your life. You deserve it.
I love you all,
Have you ever had your identity just pulled out from under your feet?
Like you spent years building yourself up to be someone only to see someone else in the mirror the next morning?
I have. And a running injury was the turning point.
What seemed like a career ending injury has turned out to be a blessing. And I didn’t even know until I came across the world here to India.
By about this time of the year, runners are preparing themselves for a fall marathon. The last two weeks before a marathon becomes a really important time for recovery and rest.
This article will share some essential tips I’ve learned from years of doing marathons and more importantly, from coaching marathoners.
First a little update on my whereabouts: I’m traveling around Asia, currently in McCleodganj, India, the home of the Dalai Lama, and one of the most spiritual places in India. The brand of spirituality around here is Tibetan Buddhism.
The Dharma runs deep here. Saffron clad monks walk mindfully through these streets (that with cows, dogs, spaced out tourists, and lots of Indians hustling to make a living). Monasteries are all over this Dalhousar mountain range.
I’m having a profound and deep spiritual experience. And still recovering from a running injury and a serious case of RUNNER BURNOUT.
Marathoners don’t realize the impact on your body that running for three to five hours causes. Here’s just a sampler:
- Thousands of foot strikes. So if you’re not landing correctly like I was, wear and serious tear can occur.
- Massive OXIDATION in your cells. This means you’re creating lots of free radicals that can oxidize and prematurely age your cells.
- Lots of pollutants coming into your body from the Air especially in a city like Los Angeles or Long Beach.
The fact is, many people don’t continue doing marathons for a long period of their lives. It’s difficult and puts a serious wear on your body.
Yet marathoners just keep on going. We’re generally tough, goal oriented people. We like difficult challenges, it gives us purpose and makes us feel alive. The idea of slowing down and taking a rest is not something that appeals to our characters.
In addition, with good coaches like Steve Mackel of Solerunners, we learn many ways to keep going even though the body is telling us to slow down. Ways like ChiRunning, good nutrition, message, sugary goos, mental training, yoga, and even lots of post run celebrations.
Toss in a good heaping of pride, your inner drive, the competitiveness of your team, the investment of your race, talk about pacing…and you create an inner drive that ignores what your body is telling you, over and over, again, until…
The body forces you to stop. That’s what happened to me. A running injury. I haven’t written about this before on SoCalRunning.com. I kept it my little secret. I was a running coach. My pride refused to let me admit that my own coaching advice had led me to an injury.
It was a double blow, to my identity and to my body. But now with some distance between that coaching life of mine and where I am right now, I feel I can be very honest with you.
Enough about me. Let’s get down to business. This article is about you. And how you can avoid the same mistakes I made so you can prepare and run your marathon taking the best care of your body.
Here’s some things that will help your recovery in the weeks leading up to your marathon and beyond:
1. Get lots of Rest. Eight hours of sleep (or more) is essential. Cut out the caffeine. Drink herbal teas. Cut off the TV and computers early in the evening. Take days off running after a long run. Don’t run if possible the week before your marathon. And seriously consider taking some time off running after you finish your marathon. Even professional athletes don’t train year round. Don’t push yourself on every run. Learn to take it easy. For me, burning the candle at both ends and not taking at least one six month break from marathoning in five years really put a toll on body that lead to an injury. Getting lots of rest and recovery will make you a faster runner in the long run.
2. Get SuperNutrition. Your regular diet is just not enough to compensate for the demands of marathon training. Runners seem to think a long run is just an excuse to pig out on the weekends, booze hard, and eat what they want to eat. Then they think that loading up on a bunch of carbs the week before the race will get them ready. When Steve and I interviewed Luanne Pennesi and Gary Null a year ago, it was a rude awakening on the nutritional needs of an athlete. And if you’re training for a marathon, YOU’RE AN ATHLETE. You need lots of antioxidants, supplements, juices, and proper rest. If you want to learn more then consider purchasing the interview series called Optimum Performance Athlete.
3. Slow Down. The way I see it. There’s two main ways you can run your marathon. One is to go out there and hammer it for a certain pace, shooting for Personal Record (PR). I’ve done this a bunch. But it takes serious training at that pace. In other words, you need to be close to that pace during all your long runs. Most marathoners way overestimate what they can do on race day (especially as they get fitter and fitter). So if you’re getting super nutrition, lots of rest, and doing long pace runs, great! Go for it! But if not, I simply recommend slowing down on race day, and making your race a CELEBRATION. In other words, make your race into a party. Slow down, interact with the runners and the crowds, and enjoy yourself. Even better, try to help some runners out on the course with good jokes or good Steve Mackel advice. The most enjoyable marathons I’ve run were the ones where I said, “Screw the time, I’m having a good time!”"
4. Get Professional Care early. For about a year, I knew something was wrong with my left foot and ankle. It really bothered me during trail runs and long runs. I hoped it would just go away. It didn’t. It just got worse. I didn’t even think of seeing a doctor. Why? I had a long training run to do, or some race, or a track workout. Anything but to face the reality of what was occuring in my body. And all this running on a minor injury, finally caused a MAJOR INJURY. Finally, I saw a podiatrist, good chiropractor, and then a physical therapist. Between all of them, I pieced together a pretty good picture of what happened to my foot. And more importantly, how to treat it. If you’re in pain, you must stop what you’re doing, and go get some professional care and advice.
Hopefully some of my experiences can help you in the weeks and years ahead as a runner.
It’s very typical in Western societies to overwork, under rest, eat poorly, and then just tough it out. Thinking that this hard work will all pay off. It does, sometimes. But the cost can be high for our lives and the health of our bodies.
There is a different way. Get rest, learn proper nutrition, slow down, and listen to your body.
And if you do get an injury. Maybe it is a signal to take a little time off running. Reassess your life. Try something new. That’s what happened to me. I realized I had accomplished almost all my running goals. So it was time to pursue some other lifetime goals, like seeing more of Asia, particularly the Himalayas.
Which is where I am now.
I still run. My running is much slower and more deliberate now. I run a couple times a week here in India, do lots of rehab for my foot. But more than anything, I’m learning to slow down in all areas of my life and live much more in the moment.
The fast lane is only one lane of the freeway.
8.jpg” alt=”My Tibetan Buddhism class in Dharamsala, India.” width=”300″ height=”250″ />
Always as a marathon date comes closer and closer, I feel not a relaxed calm and confidence in my abilities but instead a never ending anxiety about training.
My sleep becomes more restless in the evenings as I battle through my subconscious asking me questions such as: “Am I training enough?”, “Am I doing enough speed work?”, “Am I on pace?”, “Will I make my time goal?”, and “Will this damn Plantar Fasciitis ever go away or will it derail my marathon?”.
Talking to all my fellow runners seems to make the anxieties worse. They all want to know things like about my pace, my goals for race day, even what I plan to do after race day.
Often my job seems to get its busiest right before the race. Just adding to this ongoing stress level.
Well I was thinking about all these things this morning.
A brief update. I am in Dharamsala, India (Home of the Dalai Lama). My dream for many years was to run a marathon. I kept on believing in that dream. Kept learning, kept making daily little progress. It came true seventeen fold. Even helped a few others complete a marathon.
My next major dream was to travel around Asia, especially to see the Himalayas.
That is what has taken me to India. Dharamsala is the spiritual gateway to the Himalayas. I look out of my guesthouse window to the beginning of the mountain range. They are huge and majestic.
Interestingly enough, I have been attending Buddhist philosopy classes the last few days.
They are held in a classroom next to the Tibetan Library. Most of the great Buddhist texts and scholars were destroyed by a tumultuous Indian History. The Tibetans, however, translated all of these into Tibetan. Then through their devotion to the monastic life and scholarship, kept the teachings alive through the centuries.
In other words, when you study Tibetan Buddhism you study some real authentic, old teachings. Some say the “real stuff”.
So this old scholar comes in in the morning, we all bow, say a bunch of prayers which I can’t even seem to read the English translations of. Then he begins talking. A lovely funny older English woman gives the translations. They have been working together for like 30 years. Translating like 10 of his books or so, to give an idea of his scholarship.
So he is giving a talk this morning which is part of bigger talk on some sacred text, which is a commentary on some other sacred philosophies.
And in the midst of it, I thought of people training for the Marathon.
The main theme of the talk is about how to be a Bodhissatva. This is a very holy Buddhist term to describe someone who doesn’t go off to nirvana in order to devote their life to care and compassion of all living beings. Like a Saint.
One of the essential characteristics of such saintly work is PATIENCE.
Here’s where it gets interesting. He says we all suffer. And some like the Tibetan people have suffered a great, great deal. And the more you persue a spiritual, or in my opinion, an athletic path, the more suffering, and enemies you will encounter.
It shouldn’t be that way. It should get easier right? Your training should get easier as you get closer to the goal.
Well, hogwash according to the spiritual master.
It gets harder so you can develop some patience. And this he defined as a calmness in the face of suffering. A faith in the direction of your work. A willingness to face your hardships. A certainty in the teachings of your coaches or spiritual masters.
Because this patience will allow you to learn. This patience will shatter your overblown pride as athlete so you can begin listening again. Listening to you body, your coaches, the old teachings.
And ultimately this patience will be your greatest teacher. To teach that you WILL get through this anxious time in your training. And you WILL survive those long training runs with that bunk ankle. And someway, somehow you find the patience in others to juggle all those people in your life so that you can just show up on Saturday morning.
Well when you get through all these little hardships, you will get some real patience.
This spirital master taught us to imagine that you are experiencing all of this in order to help all the other marathoners out there. To imagine that you are experiencing all of this to demonstrate to you family that you can stay strong in the face of adversity. And to imagine that you are experiencing these pains to show your friends and colleagues that great things are possible.
The Bodhissatva way is to experience all of this so we can develop the greatest of all human qualities…COMPASSION.
Because on race day, you will need some compassion. You’ll need to be compassionate and loving to your body and mind in that great battle of 26.2 or 13.1 miles.
Or even more important, and this is the part I love…
You’ll need that compassion to lift your head high to look around you and motivate the runners around you. You’ll need that compassion to share a joke when they look sad. To share an inspirational story when their spirit seems down. You cheer on every honorable runner you pass to let them know how awesome they are doing. Because YOU KNOW what they suffered through to just get there on race day.
And even better, when you develop more and more patience and compassion your performance, your race day time, your goals will just dissolve away into the practice of something deeper….seeing just how many people you can help on race day.
And in that, you will find happiness beyond your dreams. That by making others happy in training, before the race, and on race day you will find….happiness.
So hang in there, be patient, this time like all others, will pass.
That is why you suffer. So you can help others. So simple and beautiful.
This was the teaching I heard today, that has been taught for over 2,000 years and just might help you in your journey today.
This is the second part of Coach’s Gary’s Catalina Marathon in 2009. It was an amazing weekend with lots of good friends and training partners at Sole Runners. To train with us visit http://www.SoleRunners.net/.
God Bless, Gary