This plan is mostly comprised of things to help a marathoner but can be adapted to help half marathoners as well.
This is your race week! All the hard work, early Saturday mornings, long runs, sacrifice, etc. will pay off on Sunday. You are ready. The hay is in the barn, physiologically speaking. But, how you treat your body this week matters. So let’s figure that out now. Your focus this week is TAKE CARE OF YOU! This goes for any family members too.
- Hydration – Start hydrating now. At least 2-4 x 32 oz of fluids. Make sure you include electrolyte drinks like Skratch, Nuun, or Gatorade. You want your pee to be pale yellow…not clear. I like to add one squeezed lemon to my first water bottle of the day. If you don’t like plain water too much try sparkling water with lemon or lime! J
- Nutrition – Eat clean, nutrient rich foods. Avoid heavy, high fat, greasy, spicy and fried junk food. Attempt to load yourself with whole grains and protein starting Monday. This will help your body to adapt slowly to the change instead of a drastic alteration in diet. The body programs itself in a way to utilize what you put into it the most efficiently, so there is always a gradual learning curve. The food list shows good sources of complex carbohydrates: whole grain pastas, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, other root veggies, brown breads, whole grain bagels, muesli, peas, beans, lentils, porridge oats, etc.
- Sleep – I cannot stress how important sleep is this week. You’ll want to shoot for 7-9 hours every single night except for Saturday. It’s okay if you don’t sleep much the night before your race.
- Stress – Try and avoid stress this week. Stay calm, think happy thoughts, watch funny shows/movies, and avoid being around people or situations that really stress you out. Try breathing exercises or taking a hot bubble (Epson salt) bath to relax. I like to use music to help destress. It always puts me in a good mood.
- Planning – Let go of what you can’t control and Embrace what you can control. You can control how prepared you are…and below are some tips to help you prepare for Sunday.
- Read through the 3 Taper documents provided by Rogue. Watch the Prep & Pump video one more time. Read through your training log. Remember ALL the work you’ve done to prepare for this day.
- Write down your race day hydration and nutrition plan. Write down your salt pill plan. Then, type it up & tape it, make it into a wrist band. Why? Your brain will stop working during the marathon and you won’t remember or be capable of thinking clearly. Since we will most likely have rain during race writing it on your arm will wash off. Therefore, make your plan like a pace band. Trust me…it’s more important than your paces.
- My Plan – I am sharing my personal hydration and nutrition plan with you but please know everyone is different. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. Always do what works for you.
- My Background: One thing that I have found during hot/humid marathons (I have run 5 marathons and 3 have been 65-75 degrees at the start). I start hydrating EARLY! My stomach gets really wonky after 20ish miles and I can’t take anything except water after 20 miles. I also have only taken salt pills once in my life so it’s not something I am used to but I plan on taking them Sunday.
- My Hydration: PRE-RACE: I will make a Skratch slushy in a paper cup (frozen from the night before) and bring to the corral in my frozen plastic bag (I’ll explain that later). I’ll drink a little Skratch when I get to Rogue to park at 5:30 AM. Then, in the start corral I’ll eat my slushy. RACE: Take at least 1 water at every station to drink. After half way start taking 2 waters to drink, and 1-2 to pour on myself. I will start that early if I feel warm earlier. Take Nuun at every other stop along with the water. My mom is meeting at 3 spots to give me a plastic water bottle with Skratch in it (miles 6, 17 – both at Whataburger, and mile 21-22 at Lamar & North Loop). My friend Marc is meeting me at 2-3 spots with Skratch (mile 9 – Randalls on LAB & mile 14 at Shoal Creek & Hancock) and a fail safe at 23.5 at 41st & Duval.
- My Nutrition: 4:30 AM – Eat breakfast & drink coffee (oatmeal w/peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, and blueberries). 5 AM: Drink beet elite. GU (I use the powergel Strawberry Banana w/caffeine. I take one at the start line about 10 minutes before the gun goes off. Then, I take one an hour into the race and then every 45 minutes….but I don’t take any after mile 20. For me those are around miles 8, 15, and 20. I bring 5 just in case I need one after 20 or if I drop one.
- Salt Pills: 2 @ 5:30 when I park at Rogue, 1 @ Start, 2 every hour I am running, and 2 extra just in case I start cramping in which case I will pop those bad boys!
- Spectators – your family & friends. Help them plan out WHERE & WHEN to be at certain spots to see you. What side of the street will they be on, what to hand you, what supplies they need: extra Gatorade/Skratch, Vaseline (or body glide), umbrella & towel, food, gus, etc. Help them help YOU. I have been on their end and it helps knowing how to get around, directions, and most importantly what side of the street they will be on and what you are wearing. This helps both you and them. If you miss them on the course…relax and move on.
- Create & Print your pace band. Tape it up. I would have 2 ready to go. The first one is your B plan (Sorry…but you’re A dream goal is out the window…look at the forecast again.) and your C plan. Your B plan is what you KNOW you can do but it is still reaching a bit. Your C plan is what you know you can totally do…last resort. However, if you get to mile 16 and you are way off both those pace bands…then your goal changes to Finish! I have done the Austin full 3 times and the Austin half twice and each time I have had to readjust my goals during the race. And my first one, my goal was to finish. No time goal…just put one foot in front of the other and finish without walking across the finish line. I am using the FindMyMarathon website to make mine. I recommend a Very Conservative Start & Aggressive Negative Split. Or you can use the one provided by Rogue. That finish is too aggressive for me personally so I like the one on findmymarathon.com.
- Get all your gear ready. Your race gear and drop bag clothes ready. Don’t forget: flip flops, body glide, extra undergarments for after the race, trash bag for rain, warm clothes for after, hat or visor, phone, cash, etc. Remember – NOTHING NEW!
- Have EVERYTHING planned and ready to go by Thursday! This will help you relax on Friday & Saturday. Also, try and get to the expo on Friday. Saturday is a relaxation day!
- Lastly, I recently did some research on how to prepare for a hot marathon. Again, I like to be prepared for what I can control. I read about these cold vests that Meb & Deena used when they ran that hot Athens Marathon for the Olympics (both made the podium). The cold vests helped keep their body temperature down before the start of the race. They had them on for about 30 minutes prior to the start. The goal was to keep the body temp down for as long as possible. The suggestion the website gave if you don’t have cold vests was to get a frozen food plastic bag and store iced down washcloths. Bring them with you to the start and place on you for 30 minutes while you are waiting for the race start. And….make a Gatorade or Skratch slushy to munch on while you wait too. Use a paper cup and freeze the drink of choice the night before.
- If you haven’t done so, review the course one more time. Visualize yourself running it.
- Running – All your runs should be 50% (with the exception of your Rogue workout) of your normal weekday runs.
Weather: Right now the weather is looking to be mid-60s at the start w/80% chance of thunderstorms Sat night & Sun morning w/10-20 mph winds SSE! Not much really to say about this. It is what it is…and we all must race in the same conditions. None of us get a free pass so get a mantra ready now. Start believing that YOU are the best hill, storm, wind, runner in all the world! You run best in the worst weather conditions. J I like to believe that the negative ions that thunderstorms bring make me faster. Who knows if that is scientifically true…I believe it anyway.
Race Info: I won’t discuss paces too much but your runners will need to be prepared to race by feel and not be super concerned with overall time & pace. You don’t sign up for Austin to PR! You sign up because you seek the challenge and it’s our hometown race.
- Packet pack-up & Expo: Friday 1-7 PM & Saturday 10-5 PM at the Austin Convention Center – no bags will be given so bring your own.
- Gear check opens on race day at 5:30 AM
- Race starts at 7 AM – Arrive EARLY! Use the porta potties over and over! J
RACE STRATEGY: Let’s break up the course: Click Here for the map
- 0-3 Miles: The Start is located at 2nd & Congress. The first 3 miles we climb Congress up to Ben White – Hwy 71 and it is a climb. Go easy, use these miles to warm up and do NOT look at your watch. Just take it easy…relax and avoid weaving in and out of runners. Run right down the middle except when you need to get water. This section is all about relaxing and going super easy. You cannot run too slow here…I promise. Don’t waste energy talking or getting caught up in the cheers…just relax.
- 4-6 Miles: Down the hills you go! Check in with your watch so you aren’t going ape crazy down the hill. Continue the relaxed effort and let the hill take you down. No reason to push here…keep it chill. Chill chill chill.
- 7-9 Miles: Around Caesar Chavez, Veteran’s, and LAB. Find your marathon rhythm and continue to stay relaxed. Find a good groove here. There is a climb up to LAB so keep your effort Steady (7/10 and no more). Keep your breath in check and make sure you are totally in control of your effort. These miles click off really fast…1, 2, 5, 8…whoa you are already at mile 9! It goes by so fast. Soak it all in and keep it relaxed. They won’t go by that fast later…I promise.
- 10-12.5 Miles: Hello hills! You have the toughest hills during this section but they are rollers. What comes up must come down. My advice is only focus on the Ups…keep a steady effort UP and an easy effort down. Steady up, easy down. There are 2 that will knock you out a bit – up to Windsor and up to Northwood. Slow down and focus on your form. Pump your arms and keep your eyes UP. The last hill on Expo is long because when you take a right on 35th you continue to climb all the way to MoPac. Don’t worry about pace, just keep your breathing in check. No hard breathing.
- 5 – 15.5 Miles: These are probably the most boring of the course/race. You are still climbing but it’s subtle. These roads are LONG and sometimes lonely. The half marathoners are gone and the roads seem like they go on forever. It’s later in the race and you are starting to feel the effects of the early hills. This part of the race you’ve got to stay focused, engaged, and remember your happy thoughts. Focus on someone a few people in front of you, or focus on trees, powerlines, or something up ahead. Keep your head up and mind engaged. Avoid falling asleep! J
- 5 – 17 Miles: As you turn left on White Rock you’ve got your first bump (up hill) since Expo and you will notice it! You’ve been in a good rhythm but now this up hill disrupts you. It’s not overly difficult but if you keep your effort the same, your pace will slow. Let it happen and keep your effort steady. You’ll turn right onto a LONG stretch along Great Northern. It’s not really uphill but it’s just so long that you feel like it goes on forever. Break this section up into parts…Part 1: Get past the baseball fields on the right. Part 2: Get to the Far West bridge. Part 3: Get to the END…Find your rhythm again and reset your mind. You are about to reach the TOP of the course. You’ll turn right on Foster and then do a weird out/back around Whataburger on Anderson Ln. There is a great cheering section here so soak that in. As you get back to Northcross you’ll climb again.
- 18 – 21 Miles: As you cross Burnet, you’ll run down another long stretch on St. Joseph. But, now it’s race time!! Time to start pushing. Time to start picking up the pace. All that waiting and being patient is now over! You’ll want to get into a half marathon pace rhythm. Thank goodness…you get some downhills now! Try catching someone and keep pushing all the way to North Loop. Keep in mind that if it’s windy (which it’s projected to be) you will feel it most of all at this point in the race. You are heading south back towards downtown. You get a lot of downhills but that wind might be in your face. Try using someone to block the wind. Remember, you are a great wind runner!
- 21 – 23.5 Miles: As you turn left on North Loop you’ve got an uphill climb to get to Duval. It’s not a fun one so remember to use your arms, keep your eyes up, and focus on your form. You’ve got this! You’ll turn right on Duval (and possibly have head wind) and have a few up & down rollers before turning left on 49th. Watch out for the speed humps. Run in between them not over them. Your legs will be shot and turning, going over speed humps, and any hills (up or down) will feel tough. 49th Street is up hill to Red River…so focus on just getting through it. You’ll turn right on Red River and come down hill to 41st. 41st St is half downhill and half uphill. This section will fatigue you mostly because it’s mile 23 of a marathon but the ups and downs take more out of you than you want. Stay focused and keep working! Use your mantra…or make up a mantra…something positive and encouraging.
- 5 – Finish: Back on Duval you have some massive downhill and most likely wind. At this point, the race should feel like 5K effort and you should be PUSHING & breathing hard! Focus on putting one foot in front of the other and making it to the next mile marker. Mile 25 comes by campus on San Jac. It’s pretty quiet so I would use this moment to celebrate how far you’ve come!! You have 1 more to go and you got this! It’s time to DIG down and use every mental trick you can think of. It’s okay if your legs stop working or you are cramping. You can run through that…I promise. I’ve seen people do it and if anyone can do it, you can. You won’t need your legs for the last mile, just your heart. Run with your heart and pump those ARMS to get up the San Jac double whammy hills! The crowds are awesome here so USE that energy and count the lights. Get to the lights…and then take a right on 11th. This is it! It’s the final stretch before the finish and it’s downhill. Your legs won’t have much left at this point so use your arms. If you haven’t already you better be giving 100%! You’ll take a quick left on Congress and OH THERE IS THE FINISH LINE!!!!!! You’ve made it! CONGRATULATIONS!!! You just finished the Austin Marathon!!!
CELEBRATE & RECOVERY
- Eat & drink a recovery drink immediately after finishing.
- Change into dry warm clothes as this will help your recovery and you’ll feel better in clean clothes.
- Drink as much water as you can after the race. Avoid alcohol until you’ve gone to the restroom and your pee is not brown. Then, if you do drink alcohol accompany each drink with water.
- Schedule a post-race massage
- Walk around as much as possible the next few days. Jog slowly if you can Monday or go for a hike. You want blood flow so keep moving.
- Take an ice or Epson salt bath, wear compression socks or tights, and stay hydrated.
- Write up a race report and start planning your next race or adventure!! J
~ Jen Harney, Rogue Running Coach & Cedar Park Training
Coach Jen is the running coach for Rogue Running Cedar Park and all around bad-to-the-bone runner. She’s a mom of two boys and she’s always carrying around a big smile except in the middle of a race and then it’s all gameface.