For those of you who read my article two weeks ago, you’ll remember what happened to me when I wasn’t prepared for my first marathon. If you haven’t read it, in a nutshell, I wasn’t prepared and wound up sucking on an oxygen tank several miles from the finish line. Now that you know that preparation is key, I’m going to give you a few tips to help you in the last few weeks before the PEI Marathon Weekend, October 16-18.
First of all, let’s start with the walking categories. Walkers should mainly focus on working up to the distance that she/he is participating in. You should be walking almost every day (which in itself is great exercise), but at least every three or four days add a little distance to your walk so that eventually you are getting closer to your goal distance. While preparing for the distance, practice what you will be doing for hydration and fuel. Wear your fuel belt that you will use during the event and make sure to try different fueling strategies to see what works best for you. For clothing and footwear, do not wear anything new on race day. Make sure you have worn shoes, shorts, shirts, etc. for a few practice walks to make sure everything fits the way it should and no chafing or blisters form.
5K and 10K runners who are running to just complete the distance should employ a similar strategy. Keep progressing towards your distance goal by running slightly longer every fourth to fifth day until you reach your goal distance. Runners competing in these events who may also have a time goal should practice their goal pace. For example a runner wanting to finish 10K in 50 minutes will be running 5 minutes/km. While there are only several weeks left before the big event, runners of all abilities can benefit by finishing off a run with several kilometers run at goal pace just to get used to how it feels.
Half and full marathoners are in a different boat. Most of their work is done and they should be tapering for their race. This involves gradually cutting back on the distance and miles that they have been running during the summer. Cutting back on mileage allows for the legs to recover and get ready for race day, however, several runs over the next couple of weeks with the last few miles at goal pace will benefit both half and full marathoners. Runners doing the half should do 3-4 miles and full marathoners can do as many 6-10 miles at goal pace depending on ability and experience level. Practicing your fueling and hydration and breaking in new running shoes and race day clothing in the last two weeks is critical and should not be taken lightly.
Marathoners are faced with a unique challenge this year, as the full marathon route that they have been practicing on, or may have run in the past, needed to be changed due to construction along the PEI National Park Roadway. Runners who have raced the full marathon route the past 10 years may find the necessary course change disconcerting, but they have no reason to worry, as the new route has a very similar elevation profile to the original marathon course. There are even a few benefits to the new course as the wind will be less of factor running along Covehead Bay and the scenery is equally spectacular.
For more tips on getting ready during the last 2-3 weeks of training, go to www.runningmagazine.ca. Have fun these next few weeks and remember that practice makes perfect!
Rob MacKenzie: What can happen if you are not properly prepared for your marathon