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What should I eat or drink during a marathon, pacing and what to do if you just are not into it early - Marathon Man Gary Allen File 3

Here are my thoughts on these three new questions.  Send your questions to bob@mybestruns.com Subject line Question for Marathon Man.

1. What should you drink or eat during a marathon?

Nutrition during a marathon is critical to your success. Back in the 1970s when I started running marathons sports nutrition companies didn't exist.  Besides water on the course we experimented with little things to help keep our energy going. My favorite was butterscotch hard candy. I pinned a few of these, still in their crinkled yellow wrappers, to the the waist band of my shorts, and would simply pop one in my cheek during the race. As it slowly dissolved, it would help give me steady energy.

Coke was also a go to product if we could get it on the course. Few races offered it officially but knowledgeable fans at old school events like Boston or Yonkers would sometimes hand out little mouth wash cups of Coca Cola, and it was pure gold.

I still think Coke works better than sports drinks. It offers caffeine, liquid and sugar and it helps keep your stomach happily settled. Today there are of course dozens of products and drinks and my best advice is to try a few in training and use the ones that work for you.

2.  How should you pace a marathon?

The most common mistake is starting too fast. Men especially  are far more impatient than women in the critical first 10k of marathons. If you are pacing well, the last 10k should be equal or faster than the first 10k. This means NOT starting like you were shot out of a cannon.

If your goal and training suggests a sub 3 hour marathon, you will need to average 6:52 pace but it would be a mistake to run that pace from the start. Instead you should run 7:00 to 7:05 pace and the 6:40s you will be running in the late miles because you were conservative early will  feel great!

3. If you just aren't into the marathon during the first three miles, what should you do?

Breathe and move. Often a byproduct of the taper period is feeing lethargic in the early miles as you body remembers what to do. Many times tough early miles are an indicator that you'll have a great day.

How many times have we all heard the winners say, "I felt terrible early" and then they go on to win! Remember you are only human and it doesn't matter that you followed a perfect training plan down to the letter.

The marathon is still more like the common persons Mt. Everest versus something as predictable as telemarketers calling at dinner time. Remember marathon running is more like an expedition than a drive thru and not everyone summits.

(Marathon Man Gary Allen is a regular My Best Runs column.  Gary Allen is one of a few runners who have run a sub three hour marathon for each of the last five decades.  He is also a race Director and coach.)

(01/14/2019) ⚡AMP
by Gary Allen
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Millinocket Marathon

Millinocket Marathon

The Millinocket Marathon & Half has again joined forces with the Mount Desert Island Marathon, Half & Relay to create the Sea to Summit Maine Race Series, featuring two amazing events and a very special finishers medallion! This FREE event was started in 2015 to help a struggling Maine mill town that has been devastated by the closing of their...

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Hitting the wall, what to eat and your longest training run were the first three questions for Marathon Man Gary Allen File 2

I am going to cover a lot of ground in my column here.  Here are my thoughts on three questions I have been asked many times.

1. What is the best thing to do if you hit the wall at 20-miles in a marathon?

Firstly, you shouldn’t hit the wall in a marathon, if you do you are probably undertrained or you likely ran far beyond your abilities, especially in the early miles.

Rather than tell people what to do when they hit the wall I’d like to share how not to. In most cases you need to train for years to harden you mind and body to the rigors of what you are undertaking. There are no short cuts to avoid hitting the wall besides training hard and racing smart. 

2.  What should you really eat and drink during the two days before running a marathon? 

Eat and drink whatever you typically eat or drink . Sadly in this internet age there is so much information flying around it actually turns marathon running into the proverbial alligator under your bed it’s not.

Remember a marathon is a man made distance and if you turn it into something more than the long road race it is, you unintentionally give the race mental power you’ll need to run. The moment you start feeling bad, because of all this information that is pinging off your brain about what you should have eaten or drank, it is like being handed an anchor.

3. How long should you longest run be training for a marathon, when should it be done and at what speed? 

You should be able to cover 28 -30 miles fairly comfortably. These long runs shouldn’t be timed but run at a very comfortable pace whatever that is. Long runs (aka time on your feet) are to help you build endurance and efficiency and not speed.

As far as frequency, I particularly hate weekly training schedules. Your body doesn’t know Sunday from Wednesday, instead I tell people I have coached to break down running into basic ingredients such as long runs, hills, speed etc and make sure you add all of these basic ingredients about every 10-12 days.

Running is not rocket science no matter how many people try to convince you otherwise. My advice is to go have fun and because you are having so much fun you’ll get much better at playing!

(Marathon Man Gary Allen is a regular My Best Runs column.  Gary Allen is one of a few runners who have run a sub three hour marathon for each of the last five decades.  He is also a race Director and coach.)

(12/21/2018) ⚡AMP
by Gary Allen
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