Key marathon ingredient #1: Sleep.
After a week of far less exercise than I’m accustomed to, the race is almost here. Today, I’ll pick up my race number and spend some time at the Boston Marathon race expo – the mecca of race expos. My Garmin needs a battery. Maybe I need an extra pair of gloves. I definitely need more GU (the sugary gels I “eat” during the race to stay fueled up for 26.2 miles). All of those things will be at the marathon expo – along with thousands of other runners who love this sport as much as I do.
The hardest part of this week, physically, has been not exercising as much as I’m used to. It’s the final three days of the taper, the most important days, really. It is essential to be well-rested in the last few days before a marathon. The worst thing you can do is create fatigue.
Getting ready to run a marathon is a little bit like mountaineering. If you’re not moving, you should be resting. I slept very soundly last night, for many more hours than I’m used to sleeping at home. The key sleeping nights will be tonight and tomorrow. The night before the race it’s pretty hard to sleep well. We’re too amped. But I’ve heard this many times and tested the theory myself, so I think it works fine: if you sleep well two nights before the race, you’ll be okay.
And a few words about carbo-loading.
The second hardest part of this week, physically, is eating well. I used to think “carbo-loading” meant I could have dessert every night in the run-up to a marathon. Not so. That makes my tummy sick.
It’s better to just have a bit more in the way of carbohydrates – the healthiest kinds, like potatoes or whole-wheat pasta – over the course of the last few days before the race. Not one big huge meal the night before. Not a ton of extra stuff. Just a little more carbohydrates, and a little less hard-to-digest stuff, like heavy proteins, fats, and even excessive fiber. Give your tummy a little less work to do, give your muscles a little more glycogen and water to draw from on Monday. That’s the game.
So here we are. In 72 hours, I’ll be on the bus to Hopkinton with 36,000 of my closest running friends. And when we get to Boylston, we’ll rock the house. Bet on it.
Yesterday: I had planned a four-miler but had an early-morning interview to do, so I walked to the interview location (1.5 miles) instead, and just did a bunch of walking during the day. Tomorrow I’ll run (slowly) a community 5K race near Boston just to shake out my legs.