Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What to do in the final days before your marathon

Being on the ASICS LA Marathon Blogger Team for Sunday's race has had many advantages, and one of them is being coached by Andrew Kastor, who trains Olympians and elite runners in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. It is a privilege, to say the least. I wanted to make sure running friends of mine might benefit from some of Coach Kastor's insights, so I am relaying these instructions from him for the final days:

Rest to conserve your energy. Get off your feet, and when you have the chance to sit down, take it! Maintain the diet you have been adhering to the entire training season. Just because your training volume has decreased, it doesn't mean that your caloric intake should be reduced as well. You should actually plan to put on one or two pounds this week, as your body is storing up precious calories, electrolytes, fat and water reserves that will be drawn from during the marathon.

Visualize yourself crossing the finish line as many times as possible before the race begins. See yourself throwing your hands up in the air in jubilation as you complete your 26.2 miles. For those of you with a goal time, envision that finish line clock ticking away, with the time you would like to hit, the time you've been dreaming about for the last few months (or years), in big, bold numbers before you.

And last but not least, DO NOT DO ANYTHING NEW!!! If you have not done it, or used it in practice, DO NOT try it during the race!


Coach Kastor also offered great motivational help for the marathon itself. First, he quoted his wife, U.S. women's distance legend Deena Kastor, from the opening line in the movie "Spirit of the Marathon": "Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us." Then he shared these words with us:

During the race, there will come a time when you have to choose how hard you're going to push yourself. Some athletes will choose to stop and rest, and others will continue to push through the discomfort, forging ahead to their marathon goals. How strong will you be when the going gets tough? Will you be able to look yourself in the mirror on Sunday afternoon and honestly answer the question, "Did I give it my all?" or "Did I rise to the occasion?" Will you be proud of yourself and your accomplishment? You should be.You should already be proud of yourself for sticking with the training program, getting up early to get your long runs in on the weekends, running in all kinds of weather conditions, because getting this far is a challenge in and of itself… The marathon is merely the reward.

However, it is also a test of will and perseverance. And if you studied hard, if you followed the plan throughout the months, you’re ready to go! Each of you has committed a tremendous amount of time and energy to your marathon goal, so dig deep and do yourself proud. I know you can ace this final exam.

More from Coach Kastor: Mental Tips For Marathon Success

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