Select the shoes–and the socks–you’ll wear in the marathon. The shoes should be relatively lightweight but provide good support, and the socks should be the type you wear in other races. If the shoes aren’t your regular training shoes, wear them on at least one 10-mile run at marathon pace. This test run will determine whether you’re likely to develop blisters or get sore feet–before it’s too late. If the shoes bother you on this run, get yourself another pair.
RUN A HALF MARATHON
“About a month out is a good time to test your fitness,” says four-time Boston and New York City Marathon champ Bill Rodgers. “Also, a good race can provide a powerful mental lift, and it will give you a little rest period in the few days before and after as you taper and recover from it.” Aim to run the half-marathon slightly faster than your marathon goal pace. If you can’t find a tune-up race, recruit friends to accompany you on a long run, with the last several miles faster than marathon pace.
ADD SPEED TO YOUR LONGEST RUN
“Four weeks out is when I do my longest run,” says 2:13 marathoner Keith Dowling. “I’ll run up to 26 miles, with this twist: I do my usual easy long-run pace for most of it, but with eight miles left, I’ll work down to six-minute pace and drop the pace every two miles to finish at five-minute pace.”
Translated into mortal terms: With eight miles to go, begin running one minute per mile slower than your marathon goal pace. Then speed up every two miles to run the last couple of miles at goal pace or slightly faster. This run will teach you how to up your effort as you become tired. Combine this with the half-marathon mentioned above, doing one with four weeks to go, and the other with three weeks to go. Your local race calendar will probably dictate the order in which you’ll run them. But if you have a choice, do the long run four weeks out (for more recovery time) and the half-marathon three weeks before your race.
MIMIC THE COURSE
If at all possible, start doing runs on the same topography as the marathon. For example, go up and down lots of hills if you’re running New York City, and get used to several hours of pancake flatness if you’re running a course like Chicago. (A flat course might seem less challenging, but its lack of variation means you’ll be using the same muscles the whole race. You need to prepare for this.)
If you live in a flat area and are preparing for a hilly marathon, do several runs on a treadmill, and alter the incline throughout. If you don’t have access to a treadmill, run on stairways or stadium steps. (Hey, drastic times call for drastic measures.)
DRINK ON THE RUN
“Practice during your remaining long and semi long runs with the sports drink and energy gels you intend to refuel with during the race,” advises Suzanne Girard Eberle, M.S., R.D., a former elite runner and author of Endurance Sports Nutrition.
“Serious-minded racers and those with finicky stomachs should be using the sports drink that will be available on the race course. And remember that sports drinks do triple duty when compared with water by providing fluid, carbohydrates, and electrolytes, the most important being sodium.” Find out how often your marathon will have aid stations, and practice drinking at that rate. If you don’t run with fluids, place bottles along your training route.
DRESS THE PART
“Please don’t run the marathon in a cotton T-shirt, even if it’s for a wonderful charity,” implores Rodgers. “You’ll run so much easier in real running clothes, such as those made of Coolmax or nylon, than in a suffocating T-shirt.”
Once you’ve picked your marathon outfit, make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin. “I normally race in my marathon clothes before the race to feel if they’re comfortable,” says Sara Wells, the 2003 U.S. National Marathon Champion. “Also wear the getup on at least one semi long run.”
DON’T GET GREEDY
Stick to your plan when training for a marathon—it isn’t like cramming for a test. That is, doing more miles than you’re used to in the last few weeks will hurt–not help–your race.
“Even if you’re feeling great, don’t up the ante and increase your training,” cautions Rodgers. “This is the time when many runners have been at it for two months or more and are becoming used to a certain level of training. Draw strength from the hard work you’ve put in.” Wells advises, “Have confidence in what you’ve been doing. From here on out, you’re just maintaining your fitness.” And get plenty of sleep.
Do no more than 40 percent of your peak weekly mileage, with most of that coming early in the week. Except for your dress rehearsal run (see below), keep your runs easy. “You should feel like you’re storing up energy, both physically and mentally” says Rodgers. If you’ve done speedwork as part of your buildup, follow an easy run later in the week with some quick 100-meter pickups to remind yourself of how fast and fit you are. On the day before the race, stick with your pre-long-run routine–a day off if that’s what you usually do, a two- or three-mile jog if you’re a daily runner.
Tips For a Great Marathon Performance Parts 2 & 3 to follow…!
Article Credit – Scott Douglas (https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20808326/26-tips-for-running-your-best-26-2)