Low HR Training


Marathon race day best practices (Read 314 times)



        I have seen a few posts on how to handle the race day, but am not sure if we have collected best practices in one place (if so, please do correct me and guide me appropriately). The "Big Book" also talks a little about it (e.g., stick to your diet, no need for carb overload etc.) but does not seem to give a full picture either (e.g., expected pace, to run based on HR or pace etc.). As most of you know, I just finished the SF marathon that I trained for exclusively based on LHR running. I am also planning to run the Seattle Marathon (Nov 27), so I thought I would start this thread in the hope that we can collect a list of best practices (esp. for running a marathon; hopefully for other endurance races as well) and perhaps even make it into a sticky post!


       So without much further ado, here are some of the things I did for the SF Marathon:


    1. Tapering down: I had a full three weeks for tapering down from my peak training - 75% time in week 1, 50% in week 2 and 25% in week 3. No different from general recommendations
    2. Day prior: No training; made sure I ate the regular food I normally eat, perhaps a little higher in quantity. No carb loading
    3. Before the race: Since the race was starting at 5:30am, I did not consume any food once I woke up. But I guess if you have a three hour window, it is probably worth eating something
    4. Warmup: I was in two minds whether I should warmup, and I did end up doing it - I ran from the hotel to the starting point (20 min) in a warmup mode. Only issue is that I was in Wave 5 and we did not start for another 40 min - so obviously my HR was going down. I ended up doing another 10 min of warmup 15 min before the start. I am sure there are better practices!
    5. Run: Two main decisions during the run
      1. Run by HR or run by Pace: I think this is personal preference. In either case, the big question is what pace (or HR) do you want to run at. As recommended here, I relied heavily on the Oregon chart and followed my HR (also, I am so used to it now, would feel weird running without looking at my HR!), except that I tracked my HR to within 5 beats (I can never run at constant HR) and increased it by 5-10 every five miles. Interestingly, I also found that I ended up with my first mile MAF pace!
      2. To eat or not to eat: I relied on Gu gels. I had a few with me, but they also had a couple of Gu stations along the way. In general, I used one Gu packet for every 4 miles
    6. Cool down: I really wanted to run for a bit after the cool down, but there was so much rush I had trouble even walking! Would be great to get some tips on cooling down at the end of the race, esp. since my HR was 181 (my max HR is 184) at the end of the race
    7. Building backup: My body was quite sore for about four days following the race. I was able to start running from week 2, but (as I posted here) realized that my MAF test got me to 10:30 min mile - I was clocking 9:40 prior to the race. In the last three weeks this came back to just under 10:00min

    Would be great to hear how others manage this



      My opinions here are largely theory as I have limited road marathon experience (PB 1982 4:09, most recent 2006 4:37 - entered on the day with no specific marathon 'training'. But in recent years I have done several marathon length trail events.

      1. Tapering down: what you did was fine. People with our level of performace and training just need to get to the start on fresh legs.

      2. Day prior:  I'd prefer a short (max 3 miles) 'recovery' run or walk.  Also in the days prior I do a form of carb loading; 3 days prior 1 bottle of sports drink, 2 days prior two bottles, day prior 3 bottles.  Clearly that's hydration and carbs.

      3. Before the race:  Ideally one bottle of sports drink three hours before the race, no solid food.

      4. Warmup:  I've never bothered.

      5. a) I've never used anything but a watch to guide my pace; keeping to splits.  I like the way you increased your HR through the event.  b) I never eat  ie solid food.  But I rely on sports drink ie carbs + water.  Gels + water = carbs + water.

      6. Cool downs are important after exercise that results in lactate build-up.  Important during training, but after a race there is often little opportunity.  After a race it is also important to keep moving to aid the circulation to stabilize; blood pressure is raised during exercise and plummets when one stops and sometimes results in a condition known as post-exercise hypotension (one feels feint).

      7. Building backup.  I'd recommend no 'training' for 4 weeks; ie nothing intensive or long.  Stay with short and slow.  As you have demonstrated, it takes about 4 weeks for the numbers to approach where they were.  It's one thing to 'feel' recovered after a few days, but the numbers can tell a different story.


      You now have about 12 weeks to prepare for Seattle.  All the best.

        Your plan is sound. Not unlike my own, though I've experimented.


        I like a three week taper, and almost always run less than I plan.


        I've yet to do a marathon where I couldn't warmup for twenty minutes (easy, easy, easy)

        and get my spot in herd 15 minutes before the race. Seattle wasn't a problem at all (ran it in 2008). Even when I ran Boston, it wasn't a problem.


        I don't eat closer than three hours before. If race time is 8:00, I wake up at 4:30, eat, go back to bed.If it was at 5:30am, I would just eat a snack before bed.


        I've used GU--first one 40 minutes into the race, then every half hour or so.


        Cooldown is generally just moving through the finish line area, walking to the food, and then back to car or hotel. Just try to keep moving for a little bit. I never collapse at the finish line dramatically like most of the winners I see when I watch the Boston Marathon and NYC Marathon on TV. I prefer to finish like Joan Benoit Samuelson at the '84 Olympics. Though I don't exclude the possibility that someday I'll collapse at the finish and die, if so, I will try to do so with some poise.


        I take it easy the week after the race, don't run much at all. Lot's of days off. I do a reverse taper eventually.


        Then I dream.



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