#1. Train Hard. With cross country season over, I now have the time to ramp up my mileage a little bit. And with a little over four weeks to go, I'm experiencing my hardest period of training. I'm trying to get in around 120 miles a week and put on the finishing touches to my cycle. As race day approaches, become familiar with marathon pace takes the utmost importance. Running a few seconds too fast or too slow early in the race can have a drastic effect, so I'm doing my best to learn my goal race rhythm and become as relaxed and efficient as possible at it.
#2. Clean up my diet. For my entire life, I've struggled to eat healthy. I've tried to cut out the junk food but I just love it too much. Not a single day goes by where I don't eat something "bad" for me. And with the heavy mileage, I burn a lot of calories and it's hard for me to maintain my weight unless I snack a lot. Some people might call it binge eating, I call it fueling the furnace. However, my marathon goal is going to be tough enough as it is, so I need every advantage possible. I hope to start the race 3-5 lbs. lighter than my last two marathons, which could give me an extra 30-60 seconds. Those precious seconds could be the difference between running in the Olympic Trials and watching it on TV, while eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.
#3. Get used to my fuel. For my marathons, I prefer to mix a packet of Vanilla Bean Gu into water bottles. And because I struggle so much to drink on the run, my bottle of choice is an empty Tummy-Yummies bottle. They are only about 50 cents each at Wal-Mart, and have a top attached to it, which makes it much easier to drink. By combining the two, it's easier to drink than water because the solution is a little thicker, which makes it come out of the bottle slower. which Before now, I haven't taken in any fuel on my training runs. A major focus of marathon training is to teach your body to react in a low carbohydrate state. By taking in fuel during long training sessions, you may help that individual session but you are hurting your performance down the road. If your body is used to constantly taking any carbohydrates while running, it won't be very effecient when the carbohydrates are running out. I've always viewed taking in carbohydrates during marathon training runs as similar to training for a trail race on the track....it's just not very logical. But to make a long story short, I'll take a Gu bottle or two on some of my training runs to get my stomach used to the contents of the drink.
#4. Practice running the tangents. I've never been good at angles and tangents. I'm terrible at pool and I made a D in high school geometry (I could partitally blame that on the ADD). A marathon is 26.2 miles when you run the shortest possible route at all times. Not to mention, you have to add an additional one meter per kilometer to account for human error. You frequently hear of people running an extra half mile or more during a marathon, according to their GPS. I think a large part of that is due to their GPS being not 100% accurate and not a result of the runner adding in an extra several minutes of running during the race. However, I feel like you can easily add in an extra tenth of a mile or so if you don't run the optimal tangents. An extra tenth is worth over 30 seconds at my marathon pace, which is a huge chunk of time. As a result, I will practice running the tangents more often on my daily runs to keep the idea fresh on my mind, so I can execute it on race day.
#5. Last and definitely least, become paranoid. I've runs thousands of miles the last few months and am banking all of my training on this one performance. I usually peak pretty well, which is very important because I need to be in optimal shape come race day. However, early December is a very "sick" time of the year and the viruses and sicknesses are starting to run their course around my school. Even a simple cold could shatter my dreams, so I'm starting to get worried about catching something and am contemplating buying one of those big bubbles and rolling around in that until race day.