(Please note: I posted this article, and the others in the ‘final preparations’ series, last year right before the LA marathon. Several of my readers suggested I post the series again this year, so here is Part 2. For Part 1, click here. Enjoy!)
Ok, you’ve made to the start line of the marathon and you’re ready to run . Here we go with Part 2 of “Marathon Secrets: Your final preparations for running the Los Angeles Marathon.”
You will have a bit of a wait in the starting area. That’s ok. Take care of the things you need to now – meet your group if you have one, use the restroom, check your gear bag and then you should start making your way to the start line.
But you should do one more thing before you reach the start — think about your goal for the marathon. You should really have already thought about this before now, but a quick review is always a good idea. Is your goal to simply finish the marathon? Do you have a time goal? Whatever the goal is, remember that there are factors that will be out of your control, such as the weather, the crowd, how your body will react on this particular day. So it’s good to be clear about your goal at the start, but remember that you should be flexible and ready to make changes, if needed, as the marathon progresses.
At the start line, you’ll feel that bundle of emotions that I wrote about in Part 1 of this series – you’re excited, anxious, nervous, and more. You’re wondering if you’ve done enough training, if you’re going to finish, if it’s going to be hard. Just to let you in on a little secret, even after all the marathons that I’ve run, I still feel some apprehension at the start of every marathon. It’s a bit like when I was in school and was about to take a math test. I wondered if I’d studied enough. But with running, I always know that I’ve done the training, that I’ve prepared and am ready. If you’ve done the training, you’re ready.
If you’re reading this and you haven’t run but a few times and haven’t done the distance training, please, I beg you, don’t run this marathon. It is really dangerous to do a marathon without proper training.
Ok, back to you, the properly trained runner, standing at the start. You’re psyched! You’re ready to go! Take a moment and take it all in. It really is a sight to behold and considering that less than 1% of the population has, or will ever, run a marathon, you’re seeing something that not many people get to see.
Then it happens. BANG! The gun goes off and you…..go nowhere.
With roughly 25,000 runners, you may have to wait awhile to cross the start line and just remember that it will be quite crowded. Be sure to pay attention to your footing. You really don’t want to take a fall in the first few miles (or at point in the marathon for that matter!)
Now it’s on. You’re running a marathon!
The excitement among the runners and the crowd will be so amazing. You’ll be smiling without even realizing that you’re doing it. Just remember, don’t get so caught up in the momentum that you lose your game plan. Don’t run too fast here in the first few miles.
Before you know it…..you’ll be at ten miles. I kid you not. You’ll be amazed at how when you hit that ten mile mark you can’t believe how fast it seemed to go.
When you hit the half-marathon mark, do not think, ‘oh boy, I still have half of the marathon to run.’ Instead, think ‘I’m halfway finished.’ And, concentrate on you far you’ve come and think about how much you’re going to enjoy that second half and finishing the run. I can’t tell you how important it is to have a positive attitude at all times.
For me, the most difficult time of the marathon is from about miles 16 to 18. I don’t know why because when you get to mile 16 you only have ten miles left. At mile 17, you move into single digits for the miles left to run, but there’s something at this point that is mentally difficult for me. Since I know this about myself, I just work hard to concentrate and move through it. I know in my mind that all I need to do at this point is get to mile 20.
So if you start to feel bad ,or anxious, or anything of the sort, after the halfway point, just hang in there. Just get to the 20 mile mark. Everything changes at the 20 mile mark.
If you’ve done your training correctly and have run a sensible marathon up to this point, at mile 20 you can tell yourself that you only have a 10K to go and you surely can make it the last 10K. Also, after mile 20, you can really start your countdown to the finish.
Now, I’m going to let you in on how I run a strong last 10K of a marathon. This may not work for everyone, but it works for me and it may work for you.
During the entire marathon, I just run my race. I don’t get caught up in the excitement of the day or run someone else’s race. If I am running with a group and the group starts to move in a direction that is not in my plan, I stick to my plan no matter how hard it is to remove myself from the group. This is the physical part of my preparation for the last 10K.
The mental part of my preparation for the last 10K also starts much earlier in the marathon. In the earlier miles, I tell myself that in that last 10K, I AM GOING TO ROCK! I tell myself that everything up to that point is just getting me ready for the part where I’m going to shine. I look forward to the last 10K sooooo much that I almost can’t wait to get there.
I’ve run several marathons with people who talk openly about how hard the last 10K is, how they hit the wall at 20 miles. I don’t think like that at all. I think about how much I’m going to enjoy the last 10K, about how many people I will pass and how I WILL ROCK!
And this, by golly, works for me every single time. I always run a very strong final 10K. I’m not going to say it’s easy, but I know I can do it and then I do.
When I get to 20 miles, I get pumped up! I know that I’ve run my marathon the way I wanted to and now I’m ready to show myself how strong I am. At this point, after all that sort of cruising along in the early miles and keeping myself together through the tough miles after the halfway point, I know that I can bring it. This is where I really start concentrating on reaching the next mile marker. I know that by breaking up the last section into each mile, I can stay strong. So at mile 20, I tell myself, ‘just get to mile 21’. Then at mile 21, I say ‘just get to mile 22’ and so on. When I get to mile 25, I start to think about how awesome the finish is going to be. That last mile, I take it all in as I run strong all the way to the finish line.
For me, the last 10K of the marathon is the most exciting part. Yes, it will be painful, but use your mind to tell your body that each step brings you closer to the finish. Tell yourself that you ROCK! You will pass people walking and in pain, but that will not be you. You will find a strength, a strength you didn’t know you had, that will propel you to the finish.
At the finish, enjoy every second of the honor that you’ve earned. There will be photographers trying to get a great photo of you so help them out by showing everyone how happy you are that you’ve completed the marathon.
And, whether this is your first marathon, your fifth or your fiftieth, remind yourself that you are strong, you are invincible, you are a marathoner!
Tomorrow, more tips for runners and special inside hints for spectators so that everyone can enjoy the marathon experience.
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