Don’t Blow it Now!

With a little more than a month until the Ottawa Marathon, there’s more you can do now to ruin your race than there is to make it better.

Yes, you’ll want to continue to build strength and confidence by running your training schedule. Do the long Sunday runs and get in the weekday runs whether it’s tempo pace, speed work or just some steady miles. But there are also some things you’ll want to avoid at this point.

Don’t be duh

Be careful
Sage advice.

The dad of a friend of mine growing up used to tell his kids all the time, “Don’t be duh.” The last thing you want to do at this point in the training is something stupid. Who could have known that sage advice would stick with me all these years later…mostly.

With that in mind, I’ve assembled a list of a few dumb things I’ve personally done in the weeks leading up to my races that have nearly cost me dearly.

  • Stupid fast speed workouts – with lots of miles run in training, it felt like I had tons of legs under me. With that came the temptation to do something dumb like try and beat my 5km PB for no reason at all. Running super fast puts a ton of extra impact through your legs and back and the outcome of a stunt like that can be a pulled calf, or worse. Resist the temptation to “see what you can do”.
  • Ridiculously long Sunday runs – every single year I have to talk myself out of a 37-40km last long Sunday run. Some years I was stubborn and still did 35km or more and regreted it completely. I know it seems like 32-34km isn’t long enough, especially when you haven’t done 42.2km before, but trust me, nothing good happens after 34km anyways.
  • Clumsy trips and falls or stubbed toes – Every. Single. Time. I nearly broke a toe a few years ago about two weeks before a marathon running up the stairs to get my running hat. Slow down, be careful and don’t compromise your race in a moment of impatience. It doesn’t take much to turn an ankle on a curb or smash a toe into a chair. You put in months of training…be careful!
  • Testing out a new machine – a couple of years ago I hopped on a new kind of elliptical machine at the race expo and gave it a go for a few minutes. About two minutes in, I felt my hip go zing and knew I had just pulled something. That cost me a PB two days later as I couldn’t drive forward up the hills the way I wanted to. Lesson learned. The expo is where you grab some gels and pick up your bib and chip. Try the hot new workout machine some other time.

How about you? Have you ever done anything dumb in the latter stages of training that almost cost you a race?