Running a marathon implies a considerable effort, and the hardness of the distance affects both amateur and professional runners.
For those that manage to reach the finish line and become marathoners, cramps, dehydration, muscle spasms and absolute physical exhaustion are some of the possible effects of running 26.2 miles.
The necessary training to run a marathon is long and requires a lot of effort and dedication to train and eat in a healthy way.
After several months of training, the week before a marathon, you should be trained enough to face the distance, know your running pace and start to define your strategy and goals.
Even though the week before the marathon does not have much impact on the improvement of your performance, it is vital in order to have a satisfactory experience the day of the race.
For that reason, we will now tell you what you should do (and what you should not do) the week before the marathon.
1.- DO NOT TRAIN HARD
The week before the marathon should be quiet, and training should be mental rather than physical.
So, training during the week before the marathon should be minimal (for many runners 50% of their weekly volume should be the best) and hard trainings should be reduced.
However, many runners train hard before a marathon in the belief that they can attain last minute improvements.
Training exaggeratedly before a marathon poses a great problem: your body will not have enough time to assimilate the effects of your training or to rest and recover correctly.
It is important for you to remember that your goal during the days before a race should be to get to the race in optimum physical conditions, well-rested and injuries free.
For that reason, it is vital to strike a balance between being relaxed to cope with the distance without losing you physical condition for resting too much.
2.- THINK POSITIVELY
Even though you have trained intelligently and appropriately for that distance, it is normal to have doubts and uncertainties the week before the race.
The combination of these doubts and the typical anxiety of running a race tend to add to the excess of energy caused by weeks of reduced volume of training.
In order to minimize the effects caused by these doubts and anxiety, it is important to work on positive thoughts and anxiety control the week before the race.
During that week, you should try to keep yourself amused and well-rested. That does not mean that you should not think of the race (that is almost impossible), but try to have positive and productive thoughts.
Analyze and define your race strategy and try to find a way so that both your mind and your body get to the day of the race in optimum conditions.
3.- WORK ON THE OPTIMIZATION OF YOUR PHYSICAL CONDITION
If you follow the prior steps, you will probably get to the day of the race physically rested and mentally ready to face the difficulties posed by a marathon.
However, there are some other things you can do to improve your physical condition to the limit.
After months of training, your body may for sure feel the effects of hard trainings. That is why apart from reducing the volume of training, we advise you to adopt other techniques.
Massaging your legs, applying ice on the painful areas of your legs, wearing compression garments and avoiding spending many hours sitting or standing are some of the conducts that may help you improve your physical condition.
4.- CROSS TRAINING
If you have problems to deal with anxiety, you can use cross training the week before the marathon.
When we talk about cross training, we refer to performing physical activities that accompany a runner’s training plan and stimulate the body differently from running (they make other muscles work or make them work in a different way or with a different intensity).
The most commonly cross training sports used by runners are cycling, swimming, elliptical training and aqua running.
Apart from these activities, yoga and pilates can be really attractive and advisable the week before the marathon (as long as you are used to them).
SLEEP A LOT
Sleeping is important for health and, therefore, the amount of hours you sleep or do not sleep also affects a your physical condition and performance.
While you sleep, a great amount of processes that are essential for a runner’s health and performance occur.
For that reason, having few or poor quality hours of sleep is one of the habits that limit and/or reduce runners’ performance.
Even though most runners forget this, sleeping as many hours as possible before a marathon is a good trick to maximize performance.
If possible, go to bed earlier at night and/or get up later in the morning and/or incorporate a nap in your daily agenda.
Flickr photo by northkoreatravel http://flickr.com/photos/northkoreatravel/13896536082 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license