Marathon Run Rituals – To Give You The “Edge”
Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Passionate Marathoner. Official Marathon Blogger. Good Magazine’s Wellness Columnist + Smoothie Chick. Yoga Teacher. Director of website InspiredHealth.co.nz
Pic: Rachel with a beetroot smoothie, full of antioxidants and goodness to fuel running.
Run Rituals – To Give You The “Edge”
As race day draws near, you enter “tapering time”. I know this sounds like something a rapper might use for lyrics. But seriously, it’s a great time because you are backing off those long, hard training miles. I love this time! Here are some race rituals around this period that can give you an edge. I hope at least one resonates with you.
Be Smart About Nutrition: A nutrient-rich diet is key. Always. It’s good for the body but it also helps your mind function at its best. A big mistake around tapering time is actually eating “like a King or Queen” ie overeating. Because you are not doing as many miles, you don’t need to eat quite as much kai. Just follow your “hunger cues”. As for race day, prepare your run fuel the night before (so you are not searching for stuff early on race day which would be stressful). Eat what you are used to eating while running (and that you have trialled during training runs). Take a little extra fuel on race day too (in case you want more or drop some). Avoid all those high-sugar sports drinks if you are not used to them as they can give some runners a sore stomach. I drink water at every station, pausing to drink (so I don’t slosh it all over me!) However, if you are an elite runner, then I doubt you will be stopping (or care if water splashes everywhere).
Hydrate: Drink plenty of water a day or two before the event. This will see you go into race day hydrated. If you get bored of water have coconut water (this boasts electrolytes). Even better still, mix it up with some home-made vegetable juice. Check out my beetroot smoothie below, which is actually quite yum – and not like that horrible bought stuff. Check out my beetroot juice recipe by clicking HERE.
Rest and Restore leading up to race day: This is the time to chill out, read, put your feet up, see friends and enjoy watching a movie. It is not the time to do massive gardening missions or doing stuff that tires you out. Save your energy.
Wear those trusty run shoes: This is not the time to try out a new pair! Unless you love getting blisters…
Sleep well: You’ll need great energy levels come race day.
Lay off the alcohol: It can dehydrate you. If you’re bored by water – drink coconut water or fresh juice that’s not too sweet.
Nut out a race plan and stick to it: Don’t be a dummy and go too fast too soon on race day; You WILL hit the wall – because the rest of the run will NOT be fun. Yeah, I’ve learned from this mistake BIG TIME.
Lay out your gear the night before race day: Again, you don’t want to be hunting for socks and fiddly things at the last minute. This will not help your nerves.
Wear what you are used to wearing is a general rule: However, I break this rule often (chuckle). But… I did learn a hard lesson once not to ever wear yoga tights during an endurance run event (I spent the entire race hitching up my tights and worried I might moon someone mid-race. Yeah, learn from my mistakes ha ha ha ha ha.
Have two goals in mind: Share one goal with friends that’s a time you know you should finish by – so this can take the pressure off having to perform like a seal on race day. Have a personal goal in mind that you hope to achieve. This is a personal thing for every runner. Don’t give a toss about what anyone else is doing – they are just running their race too and going for a personal best time – and good on them.
Encourage supporters to cheer you on out on the course: Get them to cheer you on particularly around those end miles. This will keep you motivated, lift your spirits and you deserve this support from loved-ones. Let them celebrate your success with you.
On that note, cheer others on out on the course too: This is your run tribe people! You share the same (sometimes insane) passion! Unless you are aiming to win the event… in that case, save your voice and save your energy!
Nerves are okay on race day: This is normal! Just take in 5-10 yoga breaths (slow, deep belly breaths and then exhale slowly too). You can actually rewire your nervous system in a matter of moments with this powerful technique.
Legs-up-the-wall yoga pose: This is the most delicious and restorative yoga pose. It’s so calming and good for the soul. Just a few minutes doing this with some beautiful big deep belly breaths and you will feel AMAZING, I promise you.
Stretch gently to get your body moving well and to rebalance the body: Before the event, dynamic stretches are ideal for a few minutes to warm up the body. Post the event, stretch for a few minutes to bring length back to tight muscles- unless you love walking like “a lego man”.
Stretching feels so goooooood.
Try meditation or mindfulness: These are science-proven. They are powerful tools to lower stress, can improve immune function, lift happiness levels and, well, these techniques can make you a nicer person to be around. Just saying…
Train Your Brain towards Positivity – it will Lift your Performance: This is your most powerful tool. Positive emotions affect brain function and performance. This will give you a “chemical edge”. Positive emotions flood the brain with dopamine and serotonin that can dial up your brain to perform better. A simplistic way of looking at this is that your mind-set affects your ability. So, if you think you are a success then there is more chance that this will be self-fulfilling. So in those end miles of the race, think positive thoughts. Do not focus on the fact your legs are tired!
Mantra: I know a lot of the top athletes that use this – and I do too (as a weekend warrior). You can use counting up to 10 and repeat it over and over – it’s a good thing to help you find focus and it’s a distraction from thinking “my legs are screaming stop!” Or choose three words to power your running and for you to find focus on. Choose three words that resonate with you. It could be words like: Strong, Fit, Fierce, Success.
Lastly, remember rewards go to the dogged. Believe you can and you will…
To Enter the ASB Christchurch Marathon event click HERE.
To Enter the Gazley Volkswagen Wellington Marathon Event click HERE
Good luck to all the runners. You are all awesome.