We are 4 weeks from race day! Here are some tips for your training over the last 4 weeks to keep you healthy, strong, and mentally ready.
Tip #1: Do not try to "make-up" a workout/long run that did not go well. If you had a long run or a workout that did not go well or that you had to cut short, do NOT try to go out an make it up. This is a common mistake that runners make, thinking they "need" to get that workout/long run completed. Chances are there was a reason you did not complete the run. Maybe you were sick, or you had a small muscle twinge/borderline injury. Whatever the reason, you should not try to squeeze that run back into your training schedule. The danger of trying to squeeze that workout in is that you will risk over training, fatigue, and/or injury. In the big picture, 1 or 2 missed/shortened workouts over your training cycle will not ruin your marathon. Remember that CONSISTENCY is the key. Not one great training run. Look over your training, and see the consistency of the workouts. One small glitch here or there will not hinder your overall performance. Wow, I bet that is a relief to know!
Tip #2: Avoid reading everyone else's training posts and thinking, "Maybe I should have done that." Social media is wonderful to get us motivated and connected, but remember that YOUR training is just that, YOUR TRAINING. Do not try to match what someone else is doing. Stick to your plan!
Tip #3: Avoid being lured in by the headline articles in "Runners World" or Running Times" that read something like, "Run your fastest Marathon," or "the Perfect Pre-race meal," or "Do 'XX' to run your best." While these articles are great, you do NOT want to change your path now! You are 14 weeks into an 18 week training program. You're following your plan, and you're seeing success. It's SO tempting to see something new and want to try it. But, a sudden change from your path can create an injury, illness, or fatigue. TRUST YOUR TRAINING, TRUST YOUR PREPARATION.
Tip #4: Pre-race Expo will be so much fun! You'll be able to listen to great speakers (including me!), and shop for some awesome new running clothes! Remember, keep those new running clothes, shoes, and tips that you'll learn from the speakers for AFTER your marathon. Don't wear a new top for the marathon.. it might rub and create chafing. New shoes could cause a blister. You get the idea... Don't do anything new, don't wear anything new on race day. Save it for after the marathon.
Tip #5: Maybe your training was not perfect. Maybe you had some life events, or an illness, or an injury that forced you to alter your training. That is FINE and that is REAL LIFE! What do you do? Simply adjust your time goal to be realistic based on your training. My rule of thumb is to start out conservative. You can always pick up your pace after 25k - 30k. But, starting out with your original goal might cause you to slow down and that is much less enjoyable. Be conservative, and be realistic.
You get the general theme here... STAY TRUE TO YOUR PLAN. TRUST YOUR PREPARATION. DON'T COMPARE TO OTHERS. This is YOUR MARATHON!