The lead up to a marathon mirrors the race itself. Like our training, we start out our race nice and easy. We build into the distance before settling into a flow. We have peaks and troughs in training as well as the race, but we push through in both. And then there’s the frantic final week of the taper, where we all feel a little crazy, maybe even delusional…similar to the final few miles of a marathon. Before the final euphoria of the finish line.
It seems like not too long ago I was counting down the months to the Irish Life Dublin Marathon. Somewhere in and around the start of September I started a weekly countdown on my fridge. Crossing off the number every week and replacing it with the lower one, torture some people might think, but this is the type of thing that gives me a visual target to concentrate on. The countdown is now days, and at the time of writing it is only 6 sleeps out. After running in the real capital in June, it is now time to run the nation’s capital in less than a week. The last of the sessions are done, long runs fully completed. It’s only a few light miles this week to keep the legs ticking over.
I must have listened to the marathon special episodes of The Runner’s Diary podcast half a dozen times in the last week or so. For those who listen regularly to the show, you will already know the lads talk through the route with great detail. It’s been 11 years since my one and only trip to Dublin for the October weekend and I feel I needed to familiarise myself with the course. Damian and Brian do a great job guiding us through the streets of Dublin and offering us little bits of advice, I can’t get enough of it to be honest. With the taper in full swing I needed some sort of other running fix and the podcasts did just that.
I ran at a very busy Tramore Valley Parkrun on Saturday and it was great to meet up and chat with others who will be at the start line in Dublin. Everyone was buzzing. I also attended the Runners Diary/Clayton Hotel Silver Springs Coffee morning and run meetup on Sunday. It was again another lovely morning running and chatting, all while raising some much needed funds for the Marie Keating Foundation.
From now on it’s looking after the little 1% details to get to the start line and to the end of the race in the best way I can. I’ll try to keep off my feet for most of the week and get a little extra rest if I can. I have my race plan and fueling strategy nailed down. Everything will be kept fairly simple and I won’t do anything new between now and then. I have my little mantras ready to go for different stages during the race. At the beginning of a race I like to remind myself to go smooth and steady, easier said than done with such big crowds around but I’ve used it before and it has served me well. After that I try to go into cruise mode when I have settled down into the race. If things are a little tricky and no doubt they will be at stages, I try to remind myself to just run the mile I’m in and that the bad patch will pass. I’ll remind myself to keep the legs turning over and to drive my arms and legs through. I like to do a body scan at different points during the race also, I tend to do this around the time I take on gels or at water stations. In the past I’ve used a head to toe scan technique. It helps to keep my body relaxed if I notice myself getting tense. However in recent races it’s developed into ‘Head Shoulders Knees and Toes’! I’m unsure at what point I changed over to a nursery rhyme but I like the rhythm of it and it makes me smile too…anything to keep the mind occupied!
I hope everyone will have a great race day and it will be an enjoyable experience for each runner. Go out and enjoy the experience. We get to go out and run a marathon around our capital city with thousands of other like minded people and thousands of others cheering us on. I can wait! Best of luck to all!
*Photos by Graham Meikle & Mick Dooley