by Mike Naylor
People are so short sighted when it comes to preparation. They think they can wake up and decide they want to run a marathon that might only be a few short months away. Your friends might be trying to convince you that you will be fine, and if you take your time, it will be OK.
I have known folks who have done this, and some have completed the marathon, while others have come up short because of a lack of conditioning, stamina, dehydration and or physical injury.
If you want to run a marathon or any distance race, please take the time and have the patience to make a plan and to follow it. Major jumps to longer distance running can result in some of the before-mentioned conditions. I don’t want that to happen to you. Please slowly increase your mileage base, so when it is time to go the distance, you will be ready and prepared to succeed.
I remember many years ago I learned my lesson on being prepared to run a distance race, and as the race drew closer, I continued to run hard and long without slowing down and resting. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I completed my training with three straight days of distance running and usually I would finish the last 2-3 miles at 100 % effort. I got to the line that race day feeling strong and ready to finally beat some of my training partners whom I had avoided for a few weeks so I could train on my own. For the first three quarters of the race I was flying along way ahead of my friends and possibly on course to set a new personal record. Then, without warning, my body just shut down. I was maybe 2 miles from the finish line and all I was concerned with was staying upright. I was all over the place, as my personal best time dropped from a sub 6 minute pace to survival mode. As you can imagine, running mate after running mate passed me on their way to the finish line, some stopping to see if I was OK. I ignored them and in the state I was in, I became angry at them and told them to leave me alone. I swear it took me another 20 minutes to finish the race, but, to tell you the truth, I had no idea where I was, or how far it was to the finish. I can’t even remember my friends and family helping me to a place to sit down, drink some water, and to have ice placed on the back of my neck.
It took me a long time to even want to run again, as my anger continued to draw me away from my friends and myself. This incident resonated with me, as I became a college coach and independent coach. I learned that you do need to cut it back a bit, and on race day you should feel like a race horse at Saratoga, itching to hear and see the gate open.
One of the hardest thing for me to teach my runners is how to learn to cut it back and to let your body store the energy up so on race day you will be ready to go.
So here is a simple formula for you to follow as you prepare yourself for a big race. 10 days before the event should be your last high speed workout, then within the last 5 days before the race you should do your last long run. During that time, although I do advocate for two a day workouts, you should cut out your morning runs, except on race day. On race day, you should go out for an early morning easy run, that will elevate you heart rate and get your body warmed up.
I do this because as you get fitter, it takes your body longer to get warmed up, so when you arrive at a race, you don’t have to run as much to warm up, and usually a 2-3 mile run with some 100 meter sprints will get your heart rate up into the racing zone.
Finally, I have promised one of my former world class runners that I would get back into shape to run the Falmouth Road Race with her next year. My family and friends are already contacting the local medical units to be prepared for a new patient…lol.
Some races to look forward to now:
October 1st is loaded with choices, which I find very frustrating for you to choose from.
5k Run for Autism, Schenectady
Burnt Hills Rotary Apple Run and Walk 5k
Oktoberfest 5k, Albany
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k, Empire State Plaza
October 2nd HMRRC 36th Voorheesville 7.1M
Beat Beethoven 5k, Schenectady
Be safe out there … and fight hate with love. I love you all, Coach Mike.