Coach Gary’s Marathon Race Day Tips

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,

Gary

comments

2 Responses to “Coach Gary’s Marathon Race Day Tips”

  1. lil 1/2 pint on October 11th, 2008

    Go, Beach Runners!

  2. daye on October 9th, 2009

    Coach Gary,
    Thank you for sharing your blessing, your talent and your heart to us.
    May God continue to shower his blessing to you and to your family. You are an inspiration

    daye

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