Marathon-eve Freakout: What Should I Do Today?
It's the day before the Portland Marathon. You picked up your packet. Now you're sitting around, snacking nervously, maybe flipping through channels or a magazine.
Nerves peak the day before a marathon. We second-guess all our choices: our training, our taper, our outfit and shoes for tomorrow. You might even second-guess your plans for today. Should you pound the carbs? Should you run, exercise at all, or not lift a finger?
We asked some of the experienced and successful marathoners on PRC's Racing Team what they do the day before a marathon, and most of them run.
"I may or may not run the day before the race depending on my energy level," says Dominique Lopez-Stickney. "Probably just some easy strides and stretching with optional 1–2 miles easy."
"NORMAL is the key," says two-time Olympic Trials qualifier Hallie Janssen. "I run 4–6 miles easy, eat a normal breakfast, walk around a bit in the morning, take a nap or watch tv in the afternoon, have a normal lunch, eat a normal dinner..."
Eddie Diaz and Bret Kimple both advise taking a day off two days before the race and then getting out for a run the next day. While Diaz sticks to an easy 20 or 25 minutes with some good stretching, a number of our respondents also advise adding in some short bursts or strides.
Kimple, with a PR of 2:25 from Chicago, says less is more in the week leading up to the race. The day before a marathon he'll get out for an easy, short run, but he opens up the throttle a little bit, throwing in 2–5 minutes at goal pace and a few strides at the end. (Strides are short accelerations of about 100–150m finishing near, but not at, top speed.)
Christina Overbeck-Crawford ran in January's Olympic Trials marathon in Houston and PR'd at the half-marathon last weekend in Bellingham with a 1:19. She was unique in our panel in that she also does a tiny bit of hillwork the day before a marathon.
"The day before I do three 200m build to sprint and four 20-second hill sprints. I do a few drills also. This gets my heart pumping but doesn't tire me out," she says.
And what about after your marathon-eve run? Janssen emphasizes doing everything normally, just as you've dialed-in during training.
"No carbo loading!" she says. "I drink a ton of water throughout the day and at night, too."