If you are participating in the upcoming Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon or Half Marathon taking place Oct. 20, you have likely been training for months and going on increasingly farther distance runs to increase your endurance for the big day. Just about two weeks away, that finish line should be coming into focus, but perhaps you are unsure of how to effectively taper your training and ensure your body functions at its maximum ability on that day. If so, use these tips to make the most of the final stretch before a half or full marathon:
Decrease the length of your runs
Although your nerves might tell you to complete two more distance runs during this time, your body will thank you if you do not. Your body needs adequate time to recover. If you overuse your muscles too close to race day, you put yourself at risk for soreness and injury. Do not panic if you have not completed the full mileage required for your race. Race day will give you adrenaline like you would not believe — something no amount of training can prepare you for. The cheering crowd and your mental strength will carry you through the final 10 percent of the race and across that finish line.
While you should be tapering your long runs, you should not stop being active all together. While the cardiovascular endurance you have built up through running is important, your muscles drive the force to carry you those 13.1 or 26.2 miles, so strength training is also vital. Focus on building your core and leg muscles, but taper during the final seven days to avoid soreness. In the final week, do not become absolutely sedentary but grant your body the rest it needs. Choose alternative activities like swimming and biking so that your muscles stay active but do not burn out from overuse. If you feel like you must run, keep it easy with a couple light miles.
Remember proper nutrition
As a college student, eating fast food is tempting because it’s quick, cheap and easy, but if you want your body functioning at an optimal level, avoid the drive-thru for the next two weeks. Usually, runners place stress on the “pre-race meal” the night before the marathon, but in reality, foods consumed up to a week prior to the race can affect your body. Consider what you are eating as fuel. For meals, increase your carbohydrate intake properly with complex carbs like sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta and oatmeal. Your body stores the glucose from these foods for future use — something essential for maintaining sustained energy on race day. For snacks, stick to whole foods like apples, bananas, raw veggies and nuts. Most importantly, three days before race day, do not consume anything out of the ordinary. If you do not normally eat a huge plate of pasta before a race, the night before a marathon is not the time to try it for the first time.
Hydrate and then hydrate some more
Water consumption can make or break you on race day. Your muscles need a proper amount of water to stay functioning at an optimal level. Starting three days before the race, consume your weight in ounces. For example, a female who weighs 130 pounds should drink 130 ounces of water each of the three days prior to race day. Although water will be provided during the race, being pre-hydrated will go a long way in maintaining your endurance from start to finish.
In the two weeks prior to race day, the most important thing to do it relax. Although you may be rightfully anxious, know you have trained for months and you will victoriously cross that finish line.
Molly Tavoletti is the vice president media chairwoman for CHAARG.