Upcoming Sunday is your big day. You’ve been training for months and this Sunday you’ll be racing your marathon. But, now that all that training is over, you don’t want to be sitting there nervously waiting for race day. What to do in the week before the marathon? As I mention in practically every post, I leave nothing to chance… Pick what you like, laugh about the rest: this is what my final marathon week(s) look like.
Blog alert! whenever I designate a post as blog I take it as such. That means this post is a piece of personal free writing. I need that liberty every now and then. If you are not into this, feel free to check out some of my other posts.
My week actually starts the Sunday before the race. After I come home from my final long run (which is not so long of course, as I’m tapering). I do my regular foam rolling and half baked stretches. I take a shower and get to the kitchen for breakfast. Sometimes my girlfriend is waiting for me (but mostly for the kids) with pancakes.
Yes of course, I have all this time to spend with my family, and I will. And I have to just go to work at the University the whole week. Plenty of stuff to do. But that’s just what the body does. My mind constantly switches to race day. Sometimes just dreaming away (those are nice), often trepidatiously wondering if I will ever be able to cover that distance at this pace. Almost automatically, the phone comes out of the pocket. I open the pace calculator app and just stare at the numbers on the screen.
I’m sorry, it has become a bit of a lengthy introduction. I got carried away. Then again, I categorised this post as ‘blog’. And blog means that I can write whatever the bleep I want, when I want 🙂
What I do #1 carb loading:
Carb loading is something down to earth that I can hold on to.
Ok, of course I do carb loading but what I mean is that I ‘do’ carb loading. I have turned it into an act, an operation, an activity. I’m still working on a post about how to carb load (doing research, organising my personal experiences, doing the writing, that stuff), but what I can tell you is that I partake in this activity with razor precision. Carb loading is something that I can hold on to.
I use an excel sheet (several) and I write down everything I eat and drink, including of course the amount of carbohydrates of each piece of food or beverage I take in. I do the counting of carbs and stuff. I take it as a task. It really helps me getting my mind off of things. Oh yeah, I make a new excel sheet every race. I could copy the sheet and use it again, but what then am I going to do? I want to make the thing over and over again. Until it is perfect every time.
What I do #2 sitting:
I have the religious opinion that in the days leading up to the marathon I have to walk as little as possible. I have to safe energy and make sure my muscles are relaxed. Working at the university as a teacher I tell my students that this week I would rather not stand and walk around as I normally do. ‘I remain seated so please pay attention’. My students know that i’m a runner and all are aware of the fact that I have a race coming up. Some are interested, most are not, all are aware.
I have two children, a four year old son and a couple of months old baby. If my girlfriend is not around, i would preferably have both of them in the box. The four year disagrees and climbs out. The baby disagrees too. She does not climb out.
Of course, my workouts (a couple of short easy runs, and some short intervals the day before the race) are performed with the utmost concentration. But other than that, I try to not move.
What I do #3 video games:
I don’t generally play video games. We do not own a playstation, xbox or any other gaming device. I write so I own a mac. However, when in marathon week if find myself subscribing to all sorts of cloud gaming services playing games. I suck at them, get bored and go for a new game.
This year I had fun playing hitman 3. It is a relatively slow game, it involves silent killing and stuff. Perfect to get your mind off the race. Last year I played Murder Mystery Machine on Apple Arcade (I had a couple of months free Arcade). That too is a fun game. And finally, the only game I do play every now and then: cities skylines. It works on mac and you get to build a city. Love it.
What I do #4 getting my gear ready
This one’s very important to me. I have to make sure my gear is ready at the start of the week. I put it away in a designated corner of my running drawer (I need a couple more) and it is not to be touched until I have received or picked up my bib number. That generally happens two days before the race, I take it out and my clothes remain on the dinner table all ready. But still: not to be touched. My girlfriend is free to complain about them being on the dinner table as much as she likes. That has become part of this whole ritual.
What I do #5 stare at the ceiling
This is by far my most favourite activity. I lay down on my bed and stare at the ceiling. Unfortunately, having two children and a girlfriend who by the time we approach race day has had it with all the ‘me time’, I don’t get to do this before every race. I can only do this when it is a real (and I mean REAL) peak race. Me attempting a 2.30 marathon for example. That would satisfy as a peak race.
That’s it. That’s literally it. I do no more. What are your favourite things to do in the week before the marathon?