We are all now in the taper and the months of training for the New York Marathon is behind us. There is nothing we can do now except screw up the training, so relax and allow yourself to rest and prepare for the race. DO NOT make the rookie mistake of trying to cram just a little more training in. It will only make you too tired to race optimally. I wanted to pass on a few Do’s and Dont’s and to also invite any questions you might have. I will answer your questions personally, or if you don’t mind, I will share you question, as many others might be wondering the same thing and we can all benefit from the answer. I am already getting questions from some of you – keep them coming. I jotted down my thoughts on the most common errors and the tried and true success tips and they are here. First the recipe for disaster:

Too many coaches in your head

  • Amateur Coaches: Your friends, family, training partners – just about anyone who’s heard that you are running a marathon has advice for you. If you are listening to a seasoned marathoner and they give you a bit of advice that you have time to try in training, go ahead and see if this will help you. Little tips that will make the day go smoother can be very helpful. But watch out for the drastic advice that will cause you to deviate from your plan. (ie, Vaseline on the parts that chafe, elastic shoelaces so yours don’t come untied, etc). Avoid like the plague dangerous are ideas that involve some magic substance that will erase fatigue/quell cramps/make you faster or anything that causes you to deviate from your pacing strategy. Do not try Creatine, Magnesium, No-doze, Glycerine or Ephedra. These can be deadly and I mention them because I know athletes who have tried one or all of these!
  • You also need to be careful when listening to well-intentioned fellow athletes who take a stab  at predicting your finish time. You know – “You could go sub 4/3/2:45/2:30/qualify for Boston/qualify for the Olympics/win prize money.” All this does is put pressure on you. Of course you have your own goals, but if this is your first marathon, you have to be very careful about looking for a specific finish time. If you’ve done the marathon before, expectations of huge drops in time can be unrealistic – unless there has been a very drastic change in training. And remember, there is a difference between a 3:30 finish (8:01 per mile) and 3:35 finish (8:15 per mile). If you think it’s a big difference in a 10K, it’s HUGE in a marathon. Stay in the moment, manage the race, stay hydrated, keep your HR below threshold and allow the race to unfold.
  • Professional coaches: Runner’s World, Running Times, Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, your own coach – everyone has advice on the best way to train for and run a marathon. Type “marathon training” into the Google browser and you will yield 8,900,000 results! While it really pays to be educated, too much information, especially when it is conflicting, can be overwhelming. Months ago you decided to follow someone’s advice and it has gotten you this far. Now is not the time to scrap your strategy and go with a new game plan. You are bound to be nervous and no one ever feels like they’ve trained enough, but relax and stick with the plan.