It’s Race Day!!!  The big day is finally here!  Here are just a few last tips for race day and the week after.

Getting dressed: Dress for the high, layer for the low.  Check the weather, and get dressed for the forecasted high for the day.  Add layers on top of that for the low, which is about what the temperature will be when you are walking to the start line.  I, and many other runners, wear toss-able layers for the starting line.  I typically wear an old long sleeve t-shirt that I won’t miss and a pair of $2 clearance rack sweatpants from Walmart.  I toss the pants minutes before the gun is fired and then five minutes into the race, once I’ve warmed up, I toss the shirt.  Most marathons collect clothes that have been tossed during the start and donate them to a worthy charity.  So look at it as a good excuse to get rid of your husband’s college sweatpants with holes in the knees and a mysterious stain on the rear end. If you don’t have room in your suitcase for an extra outfit, just pack a large garbage bag.  Make a hole for your head, and wear that while waiting for the race to begin.  There is a bag check at the starting line, but you will need to have your bag there at least 10 minutes prior to the start, which is a long time to stand around in shorts and a t-shirt when it’s 45 degrees out.  If you want a pair of sweats to put on after you’ve finished, this is a good reason to use the bag check, otherwise, I avoid that area completely.

Run the shortest race you can:  I’m sure you think I’m crazy, but many of you will actually run more than 26.2 miles during this marathon.  According to USA Track & Field, a course is measured by the “shortest possible route that a runner can take. That is, the route is measured along the line of sight a runner has, cutting all tangents and crossing corner to corner.” That means, hug the curves, be close to the corners when you turn.  This will be hard to do at the beginning of the race with the large crowds, but once it thins out, try to stay as close to the turns as possible.  I did the Marine Corp Marathon a few years ago with a GPS on, and I actually ran 26.8 miles that day, not 26.2.  Lesson learned!

After the race: Many people will go for a one or two mile run the day after a marathon.  Personally, I figure I ran my booty off, it deserves a day of rest.  You’ll definitely want to go for a short run on Tuesday.  Just two miles will help burn off some of the lactic acid causing your sore muscles.  Rest a couple more days, then you can go for a four or five mile run.  Your body won’t be completely recovered for a few weeks, but you can begin running regularly (but fewer miles) after the first week.

Taking the stairs:  You will find that walking down stairs will be hard for a few days after your marathon.   You’ll look like an idiot, but walk down them backwards.   After the Marine Corps Marathon in 2008, my friends and I put our cameras in our purses and walked the streets of DC as tourists.  We went to visit Abe at the Lincoln Memorial, which is encased by at least 10,000 steps on all sides, at least that’s how many my sore butt counted!  We looked pretty ridiculous slowly walking up them with our sore legs.  Walking back down, backwards, all three of us holding the rails for dear life, I’m pretty sure people thought we escaped the loony bin.  At least our legs were happy, and we didn’t fall on our faces (or our butts)!!!

Congratulations for getting to this point!  All your hard work and training will pay off on Sunday!

See you all this weekend!

Happy running,


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It’s finally here!  The day you have been training and waiting for so anxiously for months.  Last week, we talked about things to do the night before the race.  Well, what about race morning?  Over the years, I have learned some things to do and not do on race morning. 

1.  Don’t do anything different.  This is not the morning to wear new shoes, new socks, try a new breakfast food, or experiment with new running shorts.  Trust me – 10 miles into a 26.2 mile run is NOT the time to figure out the new thing doesn’t work. 

2.  Give yourself time.  You don’t want to be any more anxious than you already are, so make sure to set the alarm early enough to complete your normal pre-run routine.  I like to have time to shower, eat, etc. and I don’t want to be running to the start line (and yes, I have done that before!), so I give myself more time than I think I need.

3.  Eat.  You may feel like you have butterflies in your stomach, but you are going to need those calories!  You have had months to perfect your food intake prior to a long run and to know what does and doesn’t work for you.  This is not the morning to skimp on breakfast. 

4.  Remember your stuff.  Running in strange city from a hotel room?  Don’t forget your room key and some cash (just in case). 

5.  Pick a place to meet your family and friends when the race is over.  It takes roaming a finish line with 20,000 other runners and their families once and you will never forget to do this again.

6.  Enjoy it!  You have worked and trained so hard for this – remember to take it all in and enjoy yourself!  High five the kids on the sidelines and take time to read the funny signs in the crowd.  It will be over quickly and you will have the memories for the rest of your life!

Good luck, everyone!


“I know of no single factor that more greatly affects our ability to perform than the image we have of ourselves.”  ~Tim Gallwey

According to sports psychologist Shane Murphy, Ph.D., “the parts of the brain that are used when thinking about a task are the same ones used when actually doing it.”  Using visualization can help you feel more relaxed come race day.  Use your imagination to create positive images of yourself running the marathon.  Take some time each day, find a quite place, close your eyes, and picture yourself running the marathon.  Be detailed in your images.  Picture yourself crossing the starting line, listen to the runner’s feet hit the pavement, taste the water running down your throat.  Most importantly picture yourself near the finish, running strong.  Finally imagine yourself crossing the finish line, listen to the crowds cheering, feel the sweat dripping from your face.  Practice visualization often and the runner you see in your mind will be the runner you become.

Along with visualization, build some affirmation into your days.  Sports psychologists recommend using these mantras to get connected to the way you want to feel.  Think of a positive statement, such as I am an athlete or Run strong, and repeat it to yourself over and over.  Begin using it during your last few runs, and throughout your days.  Use it during your marathon when your legs start to hurt and you want to quit.  Say it out loud repeatedly and eventually you will believe it.

Next week: It’s Race Day!

Happy running,


You have been training for months now and it’s finally here!  You have so many emotions running through your head – you’re excited, nervous, anxious, relieved.  What do you need to do the day prior to the race to ensure success on race day?  These are things I have learned through running multiple marathons and I consider vital to my pre-race routine.

1.  Take it easy.  I remember my first marathon – my parents were in town visiting me in Austin.  They wanted to go out all day and have fun.  I did lots of walking that day – more than I should have.  Most of you may be tourists in the Twin Cities area, but fight the urge to walk around and sightsee the day before the race.  Being up and around more than necessary may cause swelling or blisters.  Do your sightseeing the next day.

2.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  I drink water ALL DAY long on the day before the race.  You want to go into a marathon well-hydrated.  Keep a water bottle with you at all times.

3.  Go to bed early.  You really should be doing this for several nights prior to the race.  Pre-race jitters and excitement may keep you from a good night sleep the night before the race, but if you have slept well the few nights before that, you should be well-rested.

4.  Eat, but not too much.  Many people like to “carb load” the night before the race and this is something I often do.  Don’t eat too much to be uncomfortable.  A meal of mainly carbs, with some protein and fat is a good combination.  Once before the New York Marathon, I went to Carnegie Deli and ate a pastrami and corned beef sandwich with blueberry cheesecake as my pre-race meal.  Not my best idea.   

5.  Check your gear.  Get everything ready for race morning –  from your shoes and clothes, to your race number and timing chip, to your fuel for the course.  I even set out a rubber band for my hair.  I don’t want to scramble in the morning. 

6.  Clear the path.  Remember when I said to hydrate?  You may have to, um, use the facilities at night and you are going to be in a strange hotel.  Seems like a bad combination for a stubbed toe.  Clear the path from your bed to the bathroom to avoid any injuries .    

7.  Set 2 alarms.  You will rest easier if you have a backup. 

Next  week: the day of the race!

Happy running,


With your longest run behind you now, you may feel the most important part of your training is over. The taper over the next three weeks is actually just as, if not more important than your long runs thus far. There is some debate in the running world about what is the correct length and intensity of a taper. My information is by no means all inclusive, but what I have found successful in the past.

Many people are concerned that a sudden decrease in training will affect their race time, however a 3 week taper will not result in a decreased aerobic fitness if done correctly. The purpose of a taper is to maintain your aerobic fitness while allowing your body to recover from the stress of intense training, in order to be at its optimal functioning on race day.

Studies have shown that the decrease in mileage during your taper is important to restore glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones to their level. This rest period allows your damaged muscles to repair and therefore strengthen. Your immune system will also recover at this point, preventing a cold or injury just prior to race day. Research has shown that with a good taper, performance can be improved by 5 to 10 minutes.

Most tapers are three weeks, immediately following your longest mileage week. Typically you will reduce your total mileage by 20% (from you longest mileage week) during the first taper week, a 40% decrease (from you longest mileage week) the second taper week, and finally, 60% (from you longest mileage week) during the final week before the marathon. For example, if you ran a total of 35 miles this week, your taper weeks will be 28 miles, 21 miles, and 14 miles. Some plans will show a decrease in mileage by only 10% each week, others will decrease by 30% each week.

Studies have found that while decreasing mileage, it is best to continue some speed and intensity during the taper. All of your runs will shorten in time and length, but your speed will generally be the same as you have been running throughout your training. It is still a good idea to add speed to the end of your long runs during your taper, and do your interval and tempo runs at the same intensity you have been doing thus far.

So enjoy the extra time you’ll have in your days over the next three weeks, but don’t relax too much, the biggest day is still ahead of you!

Next week: Zen running

Happy running,