10 Things To Do Week Leading Up to the Marathon

This is the week.  Marathon week. As promised, this is the final post in my Marathon Wednesday Series.  This post was originally going to be a compilation of marathon inspiration from interviews I gathered from people who have completed marathons, but life happens and that idea never happened.  So instead, I am sharing a few things I am intentionally incorporating into my week to help with my performance come Sunday. While at this point there is not much more I can do that will change my fitness, there are a few small intentional choices I have made this week to help me feel both physically and mentally ready.  So, if you are gearing up for your fall marathon and have all the weeks of training carefully laid-out, but feel a little less certain about what that final week should look like, this one is for you! Here is a checklist of 10 things you should consider doing the week of your marathon.  

1. Run Less Miles

Depending on who you ask, people will have different opinions of what your mileage should like in that week leading up to the big 26.2.  Most schools of thought can agree that cutting back on mileage is a good and necessary thing; however, there are some that don’t believe in a full-on taper.  The thing with training is that especially after all the major miles and workouts have been put in, the final week is more about your mental state. For some, they might feel better if they don’t cut back a ton in miles.  For others, a significant cutdown helps them mentally feel ready. While I was initially resistant to cutting back a ton on the mileage, I have cut my runs this week down to either 4 or 5 mile runs. This is about 3 miles less per day.  I am also taking the Thursday before the race off. This is putting me at about 21 miles before I race the 26.2. While there is definitely still a temptation to squeeze in a few more miles this week, I know that those miles won’t help. If anything, they could keep me from fully recovering and feeling my freshest in the race.  

2. Run a Workout that Brings Confidence 

While there is no need to run a crazy workout during Marathon Week, a very short and easy workout, is a good thing to incorporate to help give you confidence going into the race.  I ran a workout on my normal workout day, Wednesday. It was just extra short. I ran a 2 mile warm-up, 2 miles at my goal marathon pace, and a mile cool down. This workout was solely for confidence.  I ran the two miles about 10 seconds faster than my goal pace and that was intentionally trying to go really easy and controlled. This was a huge boost in confidence. I finished those 5 miles feeling amazing. I highly suggest creating a light workout, like the one above, to help remind you that even in your tiredness, all those miles and hard work paid off. You are fit.  You are ready.

3. Drink Lots of Water

This is an obvious one, but especially if you are not great when it comes to hydration, this is the week to be extra intentional about it. Carry that bottle everywhere. Have a cup of water by your bedside.  I used to be really great at drinking water, but ever since becoming a mom, I so easily forget to drink water for myself. I am constantly putting Hudson’s sippy cup in front of him, but don’t do the same for myself.  This week, I am all about the water. I just sit and drink whole glasses and actually think about how that water is getting my body ready for the race. 

4. Take an Epsom Salt Bath, Sleep In Compression Socks & Roll

I just wrote a post about the importance of recovery, if you missed it, you can check it out here.  Recovery is essential throughout training, but this week, especially, I have been making sure I dedicate daily time to recovery.  We just had our bathroom remodeled, so we can now take baths! Taking an epsom salt bath is a great way to relax your muscles and allow for blood flow.  Every night this week, I have been sleeping in my compression socks. Again, increased blood flow. While I have not been great at rolling out during this whole training block, I am trying to spend a few minutes rolling out before I go to bed.

5. Listen to Inspiring Marathon Stories

While I typically listen to a variety of different podcasts, this week my ears are being filled with inspiring marathon stories.  While who knows what I will be thinking about during the race, I like to think that I will carry bits and pieces of the motivation and inspiration I have listened to throughout my week.  

6. Try to Conserve as Much Energy as Possible (early to bed/naps)

I like to keep my days full and busy.  While we still have had relatively full days with getting runs in and then going to our church’s Vacation Bible School, I am working really hard at trying to not use up too much energy.  I am letting certain things go this week. I know they will be there for me next week. While this one is harder for me, I am also trying to get more sleep in. We are working on going to bed slightly earlier.  While I am not really a nap taker, I am taking my afternoon rest time seriously this week.

7. Focus on Nutrition (but still eat cookies!)

Since I am really just running for fun right now, I haven’t been going crazy with nutrition, but this week I really am focusing on making sure I get good, healthy calories in.  Lunches are the hardest for me. I always make Hudson a nice, big lunch, but for some reason I always find myself just snacking or eating random leftovers for lunch. This week I am trying to put together more comprehensive lunches for myself.  Our dinner meals are usually pretty healthy, but we are especially focusing on getting in good proteins and healthy carbs. Think salmon, chicken, steak, rice, quinoa, pasta. Like I mentioned in the title, I still am eating sweets! Those cookies are necessary. They won’t ruin a race. 

8. Visualize the Race 

All week there has been a background track in my mind of me racing the course.  I am present, but there is still part of me that has my mind racing. I am playing out different situations. I am imagining feeling super strong. I am thinking of scenarios that could go wrong and how I will respond. I picture running in a pack and holding on when the pace changes.  A healthy dose of visualization, regardless of the type of runner you are is important. Even if time does not matter to you, and the major goal is to get to the finish line, thinking about running through the course, is important. Think of any big, important thing you do. You visualize how it will go, you plan, you prepare.  Running a marathon is a big, important thing. You must visualize. Also, if this will be your first time on the course, I highly recommend finding a YouTube video or resources that takes your through the whole course. We watched the course video a couple months ago, but we will definitely watch again the night or two before the race.

9. Break In Race Shoes 

If you plan on racing in marathon flats, be sure to break them in! My pretty white and pink New Balance flats just came in the mail last week.  Each day this week I have been wearing them. I did one workout in them and the other days, I have just worn them for a few days out on errands. 

10. Do Strides 

Last, but not least, do strides.  These could be longer strides, like a minute or they could be super short, like 20 seconds.  The idea is to give your legs a little feel of moving quicker and getting some turnover in. I also use strides as confidence builders and work on my form.  This week, I have not had a ton of time to do strides after my run, so instead I have used the last portion of my run to incorporate a few strides where I pick up the pace. This is a great sharpening tool. It is the cherry on top to weeks and weeks of hard training. Side note: strides are a great idea to do throughout training, but it hasn’t been something I have been very consistent at during this training block.  

To those running San Francisco this week or to those running a fall marathon, best of luck! Enjoy this final week of training.  As my college coach used to always say, “The hay is in the barn.” It is. You’ve done the work. You’ve got this. Enjoy it. Push yourself. Believe you can. 

5 Ways to Recover When You Aren’t a Pro Runner

One of the things I miss most about college running is having the access to the training room. I took it for granted back then. I could finish a hard workout and then just walk over to the training room and step into the ice bath. Not only was this facility easily accessible to me, it came with a whole team that was also going to the ice bath or rolling or stretching, which further motivated me to do the same. It is one thing when the ice bath is a social event with good friends and an entirely different thing when you have to buy the ice, fill up your own bath tub and painfully enter the cold water all by yourself. I much prefer an ice bath that is already set up for me and comes with friends to chat with. Needless to say, I have done zero ice bathing in this training block. I have done a fair amount of ocean dips. And sure, not the same benefits, but a dip in the relatively cold and salty ocean is better recovery for my legs than not. When you no longer are running in college and are not a professional runner, it can be logistically more challenging to get in proper recovery. Recovery is essential and it matters, but for the non-elite runner, it can feel like too much. For me personally, it feels like enough just to get my runs in. It can feel overwhelming to also figure out a way to spend time recovering post-run. Recovery for the non-elite will look different, it may even involve some ocean dips, but there are small and easy things you can do to help ensure you are still allowing for proper recovery.

1. Bring a Bar

They say the ideal window for allowing your body to recover post-workout is within 30 minutes after completion. If I don’t plan ahead, I will often miss this window and not even eat anything for an hour or so after. This is not good. Bringing a bar with you is a really easy way to allow for recovery. I try to always leave the house with a bar packed in my bag, so I can have easy access to it. If I am home right after a workout, I will typically try to make a smoothie and blend in protein powder. This is the ideal recovery drink, but a bar is definitely always the better option than an empty stomach.

2. Sleep in Compression Socks

When time is the limiting factor, this hack of sleeping in compression socks, allows for increased blood flow to your tired muscles as you do what you need to do every night: sleep! If you’re anything like me, even this act of putting the socks on before you go to bed can be difficult to remember. Set out your compression socks on your bed to help remind you.

3. Incorporate Rolling into Evening Routine

The hardest part of recovery is finding time for it. We find time to brush our teeth every night, so why can’t we prioritize our muscles? Remember, routines do not need to take a large chunk of time. I know I easily have 5-minutes in the evening that I waste on social media that I could put to rolling out before I go to sleep. Make this a routine. Make it something as routine as brushing your teeth. Leave out your roller by your bedside to help make this actually happens. If you don’t have a roller and are serious about recovery, I highly recommend that you get one. Here is the one we have and love.

4. Ask a Friend or Spouse

When you no longer have access to trainers to massage out your tried legs, you ask your husband. At least that’s what I do. Most of us average, everyday runners will not have access to trainers, nor do we want to spend the money on weekly massages or adjustments. The things is, you don’t need to be a professional trainer to help muscles recover. Use the people in your life to help you out.

5. Ocean Dip

As I alluded to in my introduction, oceans can be your ice bath. I can sense the eye rolls, but in all seriousness, spending sometime swimming around in the ocean post-workout, especially if it’s in the winter and extra cold, is a perfect, easy and fun way to allow for recovery. I live near the beach and I understand that this is not possible for everyone, but if you don’t want to go through the hassle of buying ice and making an ice bath, get creative. Take a really cold shower. Put ice packs on your calves. Freeze water bottles and roll out those tired feet. Is this always going to be as effective as those ice baths in training facilities? No, but it is so much better than nothing.

Recovery is just as important for the pro runner as it is for you! It is just going to look a little different and might involve more trips to the ocean. Recovery does not need to be overwhelming or expensive. Make a few small choices that gives your body the recovery it deserves.