Oct | 29
Inspiration, Running Tips

Guest Post: My Prep Before The Big Race

Nichole training with her dog

Nichole trains with her dog as she prepares to race the 2012 NYC Marathon

As a guest blogger, I am writing about my experience training for the 2012 New York City Marathon. I’ve already shared how I discovered my speed. Today I would like to focus on what I am thinking about just days away from the big race.


I start my “taper” about 4 weeks from race day.  The first two weeks I’ll reduce my overall mileage to about 85-90% of my max.  My legs will feel slightly more rested and my repeat times will drop by a few seconds at this point.  The real taper starts two weeks out.  I’ll cut my mileage to 60-65% of max mileage two weeks out, and then to something fairly minimal the week of the race.  The important thing during these two weeks is to prioritize rest and recovery.  It takes confidence to reduce your training- to choose to skip the second workout of the day or to take an extra day off- but at this point I know it’s better to do too little than too much.

I really focus on the hard workouts for these weeks. I’ll typically do 2×15 or 3×10 minutes at tempo (~20 seconds faster than marathon pace).  These workouts always help build confidence and have been a good predictor of marathon race pace.

Mental Strategies

I work with a sports psychologist to fine tune my mental strategies. He always has different ways to look at things, and that outside perspective can be incredibly helpful.  He will make a personalized race prep CD that I’ll listen to once or twice a day for the two weeks prior to the race.  It focuses on important self-talk (you are strong, you are prepared, etc.) and strategies for the race itself (believe you can hang with these women!), coping thoughts (this is MY race), and pain management techniques (only positive thoughts).  If you’ve ever considered working with a psychologist before but haven’t, I would strongly recommend it.


For the two weeks prior to the marathon, I try to eat as well as I can.  This means lots of fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats – and as few packaged items as possible.  I read the labels on the foods I’m eating and if there are more than 5 ingredients, I try to choose something different.  For the week of the marathon, I’ve tried the carb-depletion and carb-load diet (3 days of eating almost no carbs followed by 3 days of eating almost all carbs), but for NYC I’ll stick to just the carb-load 3-day cycle. The carb depletion phase is supposed to allow your body to store even more carbs during the loading phase, but the depletion phase can be quite a shock to my system.  I think simplifying things and keeping things more normal is best.

Race Details

Nichole with her dog

This is Nichole’s pre-race plan. How do you prepare before your big event?

It is fun to think about all that I’ll need to pack and get ready.  First, race uniform.  Second, gels.  I’ll write the mile number on the front of each gel (nice to visualize when I’m taking them during the race).  Third, warm-ups and post-race gear. The important thing is that I don’t want to be using or doing anything new on race day. I have already worn my uniform and racing flats and have practiced taking gels during long and hard runs. I want everything to be familiar.

The most important thing you can do in these last two weeks is to focus on rest and recovery, mentally prepare yourself, eat well, and think through the details of the race.  You’ve done the work, enjoy the taper and look forward to the race!

About Nichole Porath
Nichole is a full-time finance manager from Northfield, Minnesota. She is constantly trying to learn more about training, racing, proper fueling, and mental training in a journey to find her potential as a distance runner. In only 3 years she has been able to bring her marathon PR down by nearly 19 minutes to 2:44:12 at the 2012 US Olympic Trials.  To learn more about her journey, look for additional guest posts on the Brooks Blog, or visit www.nicholerunning.blogspot.com.

About Guest Blogger
The Brooks Blog regularly features stories from our athletes, running partners and friends who exemplify Run Happy.

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