It just seemed like yesterday I was speaking at the kick-start of the LA Marathon’s first day of training last summer over at the great running club in Los Angeles, The SoCal Pacers and now here we are counting down the days. Hopefully you had a great training season and hopefully you are feeling excited and anticipating the big day. If you feel nervous, welcome to marathon racing as it is quite normal to feel this way. Keep the positive thoughts going and enjoy the journey.
What is your goal? Do you have a projected time? 3:30? 5:30? 6:30? Whatever your goal time is, you have to an idea what it will take to run the projected time you intend to run at. Chances are you have trained and ran at your marathon race pace and know you feel comfortable running that pace for a long period. If you feel you are not comfortable in your projected time goal then maybe you have an unrealistic goal time. If you have ever seen the middle to back of the pack of runners in a race you will often see many runners who flew past you at the beginning of the race and are then forced to walk the dreadful walk to the finish because they are spent. Many of these runners had unrealistic goals and were not ready for such a pace to keep up with. So be realistic out there. Before you commit to a time make sure you have done the work not just once in a training run but several times at a comfortable pace.
Do you have a Plan B? Is there a plan B in line just in case your intended race plan doesn’t work out? If there is a plan B in place it will allow you to quickly shift focus on the new goal as opposed to having no plan B and then automatically going into a place of frustration which will then lead you to a bad place mentally and your day is pretty much shot. The plan B can also be implemented when elements you have no control over such as heat, wind or rain make their way into the race. Most times many runners can use some of these aspects to their advantage while others don’t do so well in some of these elements. Pay attention to weather and make the necessary adjustments.
Is this your first race? As a first time marathoner my best advice is to throw time out the window and just get in there and experience the marathon process and embrace the challenge ahead and fight that challenge and just get to the finish line. Any expectations of a specific time is kind of unrealistic especially when you have no idea what the race is made up of. They say the marathon is two races, the first race is mile 1-20 and the second race is the last 6 miles because the last 6 miles are so unpredictable. So make it a point to get to the finish, enjoy the experience, the sights and sounds of the day and finish. Crossing the finish line of a marathon is always a victory but your first one will be so special so get out there and have a great race.
The marathon is and always has been about the journey. Each race many runners place so much emphasis on time and we get competitive not only with ourselves and others, the actual accomplishment is sometimes overlooked if we don’t get that time we walk away feeling frustrated instead of accomplished.
So my advice is to enjoy the journey. Many years down the line I could ask you what your time was from the 2013 LA Marathon and you may have a hard time remembering. BUT if I ask you to tell me about the day at the 2013 LA Marathon and there is a good chance you could tell me a pretty good story about that day and what you went through. The marathon is about the journey so keep your head up, embrace each mile, the crowds, the volunteers, the runners’, the entertainment along the course, the pain, the runner’s high and of course the finish line, where dreams come true.
Dont forget the medal they give the first place winner will be the same medal they give you. It is the same accomplishment whatever your time is. Stay calm, relaxed and focused.