As I write this there are about 9 weeks before the Monumental Marathon and Half Marathon. Depending on the status of your training that may sound like a long time or not nearly enough. In addition to the obvious training yet to be done in the last 2 months I'd like you to consider doing some homework on some very important but perhaps less obvious issues. This review will be most helpful to rookies but also those at a significantly different fitness level than their last race at these distances. I have also been caught a little close to race day debating such issues so those of us who should know better can also get caught off guard.
If you have a great training shoe and plan to use it on race day make sure the mileage is appropriate. Enough miles to avoid any hot spots or odd problems that may occur between pairs of the same model and not so many you take more pounding than needed. For most training shoes 100-200 miles is ideal. Thinking of a lighter weight trainer or racing flat? Do a long enough training run or race to make sure that the lighter is faster does not give way to a quad or calf beating that will slow you down over the last miles of the race.
Be ready for a range of conditions including temperature, wind, and precipitation. This includes what you might tie or toss during the race. Of course Monumental will have perfect conditions and a tailwind out and back but just as an exercise for future races know what works and is comfortable after 1- 6 hours of quality time as the case may be for your race.
Nutrition - Race Week & Morning
You want to balance maximizing glycogen stores without putting on extra weight that can easily accumulate with reduced training and too much eating. Know what and when you need to eat the day before to feel energized and fit on race morning. You should know exactly what you will have for breakfast on race day. It is best to find something you can supply and duplicate from your long training runs. As important as what to eat is when you should eat. Race morning butterflies may require a little extra digestion time.
Nutrition - On the Course
I have said often if we just had IV drips of water, sodium and sugar distance racing would be much easier. Work on determining your personal IV drip. How often and how much do you need to drink under race conditions? How are you going to get your calories? Gatorade and Carb-Boom are the official drink and gel of the Monumental Marathon so you might try these before race day. Not only will you feel better and run faster with this plan in place you will also feel much less stress leading up to the race.
Race Plan A, B, & C
Having a good idea of your fitness level and how that correlates to you chosen race is a very valuable tool. If you have a history of racing you might be able to look at key workouts to determine what to expect. My preference is to predict races from races. Racing once or twice between now and November 7 would be a good idea to test many of the items on this checklist. How much rest do you need to feel sharp on race day and what nutrition plan works the best, for examples. There are many equivalent performance charts available to translate what your race times at various distances might mean. Knowing if you tend to get better as the distance gets longer or you strength is the shorter and faster races will help you adjust from the charts to your race plan. When in doubt be pessimistic and hold back a little for the first few miles and speed up as you go. Have at least plans "B" and "C" in mind for the uncontrollable variables that can occur for long races.
Do you homework now and be ready for the final exam on November 7th!